So insane and talented Australian filmmaker Mark Toia is back to tell us how he made millions of dollars self-distributing his remarkable debut, Monsters of Man. After getting offered bad and predatory distribution deals, he wondered if there was another way. Enter my book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur: How to Turn Your Film into a Money-Making Business.
When I wrote my book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur, I hoped it would help filmmakers around the world. I never thought that a filmmaker halfway around the world would read it and change his entire marketing and distribution plan for his million-dollar+ indie film.
After reading Rise of the Filmtrepreneur, he reached out to tell me what he was thinking of doing. He was planning on self-distributing his film as an experiment to see if he could do it and to prove to filmmakers worldwide that you can get a great ROI (Return on Investment) on a million-dollar+ indie film without any major bankable stars.
I asked him,
“So a million-dollar Filmtrepreneur experiment?”
Mark said yes. He had already been offered multiple seven-figure deals from distributors, but after looking at the convoluted fine print of the distribution contracts, he decided to opt-out. The payment schedules were so insane it would take Mark forever to get any money at all. The traditional film distribution path was not designed to help him get paid, and if a film like Monsters of Man is having these issues, the system is most definitely broken.
Then he discovered my book and went down the Filmtrepreneur rabbit hole. When I saw the trailer for the first time, I almost fell out of my chair. I recently had the pleasure of watching the film, and all I can say is:
“Monsters of Man is one of the BEST films I’ve seen in 2020. A must watch!”
In this conversation, Mark is completely transparent about how he made millions with his film. He also reveals his successes and some failures he dealt with along the way. This is truly a one-in-a-decade indie film experiment that you now have access to see how it was done.
Enjoy my conversation with Mark Toia.
Right-click here to download the MP3
- Mark Toia – IMDB
- Read Rise of the Filmtrepreneur: How to Turn Your Movie Script into a Money-Making
- Watch on Tubi
- Watch on Amazon
- Zoom – Film & Television
- Bulletproof Script Coverage– Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
- Audible– Get a Free Screenwriting Audiobook
Alex Ferrari 0:23
I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Mark Toia. How you doing Mark? How you doing my friend?
Mark Toia 0:44
Yeah, good good.
Alex Ferrari 0:46
Thank you so much. Thanks so much for coming back on the show, man, your episode, Episode 407 has been a while we're over 600 now. So it's been a it's been a it's been a few years since we spoken on. You've been on the show. We've been talking on and off all that time. But you you came on and? And? Well, let's just start from the beginning. Can you just recap everybody and let everybody know how you got into the business really quickly what you do for a living day to day.
Mark Toia 1:16
One where I got into the business hobby, complete hobby that went crazy. There was a I was a boilermaker a young Boiler Maker and people didn't know what a boiler maker is we're pretty much people that make anything out of steel. You know, whether it's skyscrapers or a steel box for someone's back or someone's car, you know, who knows it also anything made of steel. So that's what I used to do as a trade. But I was a child artist when I was young, I could paint real life oils when I was like 13 years old. So I had did have a bit of a gifted hand when I was a young fellow and and I could draw anything and I could do my own storyboards if I want all that sort of stuff so but I mean the anyway, the hobby went crazy. Picked up a car stills camera. This is cool, had a bit of fun with that. And sent a photograph off to a magazine company, not thinking they were paid you I had no idea that they paid you. But they sent me a check for $50 and my mind exploded I literally stared at that check for like a day all day going holy fuck they pay you or sorry, the minister. And then I thought should I'm gonna do more of this. And I said some more photographs offer more magazines and a bit. I think two or $200 turned up the next month and I went oh goodness. It's almost paid my week's wages. It just kept having fun. Doing so cool. And then I went completely psycho photographer didn't know what I was doing. And went into the magazine world learned all the hassles tripped over my face a few times. went nuts and all sudden I had a career in photography that was so fast. It was funny because back in those days shooting film, in a maybe it was a bit harder. Running around like an idiot with big lenses was harder, I don't know or easier. I have no idea. But anyway, it took off. And I turned to magazines chase me. And then I used to work for a company called Reuters. We're not work but more is what they call a stringer. And that was good during the former ones and the background praise and world gymnastics, indexing us doing news events and all that. Anyway, I started get bored of that. And I got into advertising, photography, which was a complete loss of income because because I had no idea what the hell I was doing in the advertising world. No one wanted to hire me because I was a complete nobody. It was a very, very hard industry to get into. And you know, a couple of people gave me a couple of jobs that are a bit more action focused, which was pretty good at at the time doing a lot of sport, you know, for the for the newspapers and the magazines. And then someone else noticed and someone else noticed. And after a lot of persistence and a lot of walk around town knocking on doors. I managed to get my advertising career going. I said I'd built this big, obnoxious studio, like massive you can pack trucks in it. And then that everyone said I wasn't crazy, and I was gonna lose all my money. And anyway, it was the other way it took off. And I was the busiest photographer in town. During that I had one of my clients say, coming in whinging about a TV commercial he had made and he showed me that was a pretty basic and he had paid $300,000 for it. This is I'm talking probably 25 years ago. Oh, yeah. And you know, 300 grand back then is a little money, right? And anyway, he was not happy. And I said, I'd love to do a TV ad one day, and he looked at me and he says, Have you ever done one? And I said, Well, I did this video for a friend of mine. But it was very, it wasn't like a helicopter one. He loved it. It says, Well, I've got, you know, like, I think was 25 grand left over. I said, deal. No, go for this. Have fun with it, see if you can do better than this thing. And anyway, we did, and put it together in the most naive way possible, completely. completely naive. I mean, I couldn't believe how naive I wasn't how knowledgeable I was in making TV commercials. Anyway, we did it. We went through a company good, you know, like a post house could focus, I think it was cutting edge or something. And then it was back in the early days. And they helped me edit it together and put together anyway, I won. I went I entered it in the local industry awards that I won Best Director and Best cinematographer. And
Alex Ferrari 6:03
As best as they say, is history. You've done okay for yourself as a commercial director you've made if you just went to your site, right before this conversation, I just let me check about what like Oh, is that Kobe? Yeah, that's Kobe. So he's, you've done okay for yourself as a commercial director, and, and then you had this insane idea that, like I was gonna make a movie. And you made this little mini game, many, many years later, or for fast forwarding a lot. But many years later, you decided to make a little independent film called monsters of man. And and if I'm not mistaken, the budget was a million dollars or so. And you decided to finance that yourself? Is that correct?
Mark Toia 6:40
Yeah, well, it might have been a touch less with the current fluctuation of the US to Australian dollar, but
Alex Ferrari 6:45
Give or take something like that. So So then, and that movie came on, when you reached out to me, the movie had already I think was already done. And you were trying to figure out this whole? How do I make money with this thing? concept? And how did you come across my book, Rise of the Filmtrepreneur?
Mark Toia 7:05
Well, with what I remember, I just literally broken three ribs speaking and I was and I decided I was off. Because I was going to we've shot the movie. And I was editing it under pain.
Alex Ferrari 7:22
As filmmakers do by the way, we all ended under pain.
Mark Toia 7:26
I was sitting there and other back and I'm not doing anything. Now I've got three broken ribs. So I just sat there just started editing the movie. And I wasn't going to I was actually going to give it to an editor friend of mine. But this was a little bit of therapy, while just it was stuck up in the up in the snowy mountains. Doing nothing. I couldn't see us as looking out the window crying every day. So start editing the movie. And I got into it so fast. I mean, I love editing anyway, it's just a thing. I've been doing it for 20 years. I just didn't feel like editing a movie. And I never done one before. And yeah, that's right. I was sitting there and I was scouring the internet. Our side knows so sorry. It's a couple of years ago, Alex, I've got to get my gotta get No, it wasn't listen. All right now we were we were in in the middle of the hole. Selling the movie thing. That's right. Right. Right. It was no actually it was just before that. Anyway, it was in that time. It was in that time. And yes, I stumbled over your podcasts and your then your videos and I started watching this thing. This guy seems pretty much a disrupter of the world and a bit of a troublemaker Alan Howard is a type of guy. Wonder who this Alex Ferrari is. So anyway, that's why I reached out to you. Yes. And I sent you the trailer of a movie that was sort of being finished at the time.
Alex Ferrari 9:00
Right and when you send me the trailer and by the way, I get sent trailers daily by filmmakers from around the world wanting me to come on the show or talk to me or get a consult the god consultation. And when your trailer came in, I was like, Oh, when I saw the review, like the description of like, a bunch of robots get thrown in a jungle. This is gonna be horrendous, like who's gonna? What a horrible because you just think you like the graphics are going to be horrible, the V effects are not going to be good. And I turned this trailer on and this trailer turns on and I'm like, my mouth is on the floor. The visual effects are as good if not better than Marvel films. And the action is really dumb. Like who the hell is Mark Toya like, Who the hell are it's like I like reached right back out dude. Like, yeah, let's get on a call. Man. I want to talk to you like how the hell did this get done? And that's when the conversation started. And I'm not sure did you read the book at that point prior or after that conversation? But no one.
Mark Toia 9:55
I didn't know that the book existed until you until we spoke you said you were Do this book and other I'm reading it right. So you pick it up right away. I ebook that. Sorry, because I don't like reading. But I read scripts, that's about all I read, but I audio books. And yeah, I've got a little coffee shop that the writer literally just, it just was in my ear, and it was fantastic. I mean, it was so fantastic. And, you know, you and you were bang into like, you know, you're making sure no one forgot the message, right? I get fucking ripped off. Don't do this. Don't do that. Don't do that, you know, three chapters later, yeah, like at fucking remember, do the beat the drum heart? Yeah, that's fine. I'm in the drum beating. You know, I talked to my kids. And then I saw had all this poison in my brain that you poisoned me with some real world shit, you know. And then I'm at the moment and at that time, we were suffering our film through a traditional sales pipeline. You know, it was going through CIA, and other people, whatever ad in there wasn't working. And the contracts that were coming through were, were questionable. And.
Alex Ferrari 11:24
But you're serious offers, though you have a million dollar offer.
Mark Toia 11:29
It was 5 million there. And a million over there that, you know, it was all it was all happening. But I just thought, I thought it wasn't so much a bit the sound of the movie, because my wife and I thought if we throw them the million dollars in the bin, whatever it's going to be, we'll use it as a calling card, which and that's another story of off the back of this, which we'll be talking about later. But we'll just use it as a bit of a marketing tool for for me, there's like a show reel, to sell myself with the Hollywood. If we if we don't make any money on it, we're not going to lose sleep over it, right? Because I've been working very hard last 20 years in this game. My wife's a very avid property girl, a woman and she's, and between her and I are we do? Okay. You don't I mean, we did quite a lot. So I'm not going to say it was the ultimate experiment, really.
Alex Ferrari 12:25
By the way, that's a show you might I have to talk about myself, that conversation. So then you know, we're going back and forth over over Skype at the time. So we're going back and forth. And, and then you said, I think I'm just gonna, I'm gonna read your book, man, it's great, I love it. You gave me all sorts of ideas. I think I'm just going to release this myself. And I'm going to use a lot of the things in the book to help me do it. And I'm like, you're going to release a million dollar, you're going to self distribute. And now anybody else, anybody else that would have told me that I would have, I would advise the guests because to self distribute a million dollar product is you got to know. So you got to hit that target, not once, not twice, but like 40 or 50 times, Bullseye to break even. That's from my experience, because it depends on the kind of product but then I saw it but you've got a different kind of movie, you have an anomaly of a movie because there's movie your movie monsters, a man doesn't come along. I've seen it once in my life, a film like that, at that level of quality. And then your marketing savvy your understanding of the year this whole situation is so lottery ticket esque is an example of this. It's just an it's an anomaly without question. But then I'm like, if you're willing to do it, well, you want to come on the show and talk about it. You're like, Sure, come on. So you came on the show we talked about I'm like, You're gonna do a million dollar experiment. And when you're done in a couple years, come back on and tell us how it goes. He goes out and you said and you said I'll come on if I make money or if I don't make money, I want everybody to know what happened. So
Mark Toia 14:01
That was fair. That was fair. And I wanted to I wanted people to either learn by my members, my mistakes, and I made some mistakes during the process. Whether it was gonna be the traditional method or the or the maverick fucking crazy man direction, there's mistakes in both. Right and, and that's what we're here today. Well, let's let's talk about that stuff and just say why it worked, how it could have worked even better. And how what you know, now that the future is yeah, that two years have elapsed since we released it. What could I have done better? And now this is the valuable lessons that only doing what I did has taught me if I just dumped it on the in the district in with a distributor and let them go I would learn nothing. Right.
Alex Ferrari 14:56
And you would have probably made nothing.
Mark Toia 14:58
Now look, I would have got Thank you You know that people were still dumping money on me, I was still made money, but I wouldn't have made as probably as much, right. But I've been doing a lot of work as well. So the thing is distributors that sell your movie do a lot of work, they should get paid. So it's not like the supplying of factors or ripoff service that not that doing what your lazy ass ain't gonna do.
Alex Ferrari 15:24
And by the way, in the book in the book, I say that, like what I'm talking about in this book is work. Like, I never want to get it and
Mark Toia 15:33
I did a lot of it, Alex, right. Crazy. It's fun, it's fun. I said, this is really fucking good fun. I'm really enjoying it. And I'm doing, you know, all our casting on our trailers, marketing profiles, all of our online media, advertising. And mind you, I'm from an advertising agency, I'm not an agency. I don't own an agency. Sorry. But I work with 1000s of ad agencies around the world. I've worked with the best of the best of the best of the best, right? And so that without realizing it taught me so much about advertising, right, you know, you've been doing right down to the little tiny social media type shit. I mean, right.
Alex Ferrari 16:13
You pick up things. I mean, I edited. I mean, I don't hundreds of commercials and promos over the course of my career. And I picked up a couple things along the way working with you just, you just start picking up a couple things here and there. All right. So but the one thing I did get offered, you got all multimillion dollar offers from real studios, not Mickey Mouse studios, real studios. And yet, you decided to just walk away from them, because you're just like, you know, these deals, it's gonna take me forever to get paid. It's shady, there's a lot of outs and ends and it looks like I'm not able to.
Mark Toia 16:48
Yeah, look, the deals are an open book. The one deal was just a million bucks. You know what I mean?
Alex Ferrari 16:57
But, but not, but not, like, right now, they're not gonna just write you a check right now for it right,
Mark Toia 17:02
No you would have been jumping hurdles, and fucking, you know, some guy in their office would go, there's a guy that's 150 feet down the street, we need his release form, or we're not going to pay you, you know, this or that. Or, you know, there'll be some, everyone I know, that have gone through a lot of these deals with these big distributors at jumping hoops for 12 months. And then and I still talked to them. Now, one guy's been still waiting two years. The movies been out since a movie is out. And they got I know, we still need all this paperwork done. Because it's in the contract. We still need all this, this little thing done here. And it's so minimal. No one gives a shit. Yeah, it's just a way for them to hold on that they're using it as a loophole to not pay him. And they probably will pay him but that's just the machine.
Alex Ferrari 17:50
It'd be five years, it could be five years down the line. It's yeah, I've seen I've heard these stories. It's ridiculous.
Mark Toia 17:56
You know, when you do those sales, you are literally handing your baby over, you will never see it again. You'll see it in 10 or 15 years time when the contracts done relative to the rate of everything that it is.
Alex Ferrari 18:12
Alright, so what was the first so from my remember, from my recollection, the first thing you did is started to do your own theater, like you're on theatrical in Australia.
Mark Toia 18:23
That's cool. Well, we we released during COVID. And everyone said, Mark, you're mad. You're crazy. Don't do it. You know, don't ever make
Alex Ferrari 18:31
But you had it. But you had a screening. You had a screen. I remember you had a big screening.
Mark Toia 18:34
You know, I thought, you know, I've got a lot of friends here in town and and we just send everyone an email, they want to come and check out the movie and Everyone's curious. So 500 people turned up, but the ones that did it in IMAX because I do everything, as you know, and RED cameras. So we've got a Fourcade movie. So let's go to the IMAX theater, let's do it properly. And the theater was massive. It was like
Alex Ferrari 19:00
So this is the thing that I love about what you did. You did a it was a free screening, by the way, right? Yeah, it was a free screening for France. Right? Okay. Yep. So the brilliance of what you did is that you filmed everyone's reactions coming out. So it made the film look like it would had a theatrical release. You are in a real theater with like posters in the background. And you filmed all this and then that's what you used in your ads. And it was so powerful in your marketing. So even though you might have not made money on that screening, you got so much free marketing materials to be able to sell your movie on T VOD, SVOD and Avon. Is that Is that a fair statement?
Mark Toia 19:39
Yeah, well, we weren't even going to do it. There was a young young guy said hey, you got to do like a behind this. You know, like a you got to film the movie. And I just want everyone to enjoy it. Anyways, and I'll get me and my friends will cover more shoot it and go nuts. You don't I mean, so anyway, signal the stuff and I went actually I could probably use this for bid a PR. And yeah, it was some PR. And it honestly was the last thing on my mind. To be honest, I
Alex Ferrari 20:08
It was serendipitous. It was serendipitous. It was a look. So I can't You're not taking credit for it I'm trying to give you credit for you're not taking credit for it. But it is what it is. It is because you were able to get it. So sometimes, you know, sometimes the Muse sometimes the universe just gives you a little bit of a helping hand. And that was that was one of them. Because I remember that when I saw
Mark Toia 20:29
Alex Ferrari 20:30
And I remember when I was seeing your ads, I'm like, Man, those ads are powerful as hell, man. Because anytime you've got testimonials, like the ones you had many, they're very, very, very bad, especially if coming from a movie without any major giant mat, you know, massive bankable stars in it. You know, McKenna is wonderful, but he's not Tom Cruise. So you don't have that and coming from a first time filmmaker, quote, unquote, they really added a lot of value to it. Alright, so what was the release? So how did you release this the first time? You want to VOD first right? Transaction?
Mark Toia 21:00
Um, yeah. Yeah, we just went full TVOD. And yeah, we dropped it on Apple, Amazon all the normal dudes and but actually, I think let's, let's get a little bit more detailed for your, for your listeners, viewers. The movie is done. Right? We've made the movie. And I'm getting a lot of people ringing me up gown ads too fucking long. And it's too that you know that the LT long thing? And you know what, fuck it I'm leaving. It's only two hours, right? It's not.
Alex Ferrari 21:34
It's, it's not a three. It's not.
Mark Toia 21:38
And the other thing too is people will sit there and binge watch a fucking 10 hours of sit on Netflix and completely padded out show without dropping of dropping a single whinge about it. But they don't know. I'm not. And you know what, I did a 90 minute cut? I did. And it was it was it was not. You know, it was over to quick, me when I showed that go, oh, well, it's sort of like, you know, the Romans start attacking them. And then they're at the river and morale, you don't remember, they're escaped it, because you had to get rid of a lot of stuff. 30 minutes is a lot of very exciting material. So that's why I went Screw it. I don't care about 90 minutes. I'm not really that worried about making money on that. It's nice to get your money back, which is great. But I had bigger agenda with the film. And the bigger agenda wasn't so much making money for movie, it was just getting my name out there. So just remember that going in. The part of the experiment was exactly what it's doing now. So I'm gonna get all my, I'm gonna get even more money back by doing all these other big movies that these people are telling me I'm gonna get another story again, so we'll get to that later. Anyway, so then I decided after the, after I've turned down these offers, you know, from the traditional domains. And literally, that's when everyone thought, this guy that ends this movie is a fucking complete loony didn't mean, all these sales guys were just
Alex Ferrari 23:25
I thought that you were crazy Mark.
Mark Toia 23:30
Everyone thought I was crazy. And they don't want it because it's part of the experiment. The experiment was knowledge. And I just wanted to know how the distribution process worked. I wanted to know how you get your movies into transactional Video on Demand sites. I wanted to know how s VOD worked. I wanted to know how a VOD worked I want to know how the theatrical machine work that you know the the business of making money in these four different areas and they are four completely different areas. Yeah trickle especially, you know you might have other movies made $10 million but really what comes back to the filmmaker this guy he is sitting here right by the time the cinema takes half my time the agents take half the delivery guys, the the sales guys everything, you know, you might end up with that much. You know, man, it's just that there's a lot of work, and then hang on. And then there's the advertising that might be attached to your movie that's going to have to be reimbursed and there's all this shit that is that goes with it. Here's for an example. A friend of mine has made a movie over here in Australia. It did really well around the world. I think about he said it grossed over $25 million. He's still yet to see a single cent four years later. Wow. It's gonna come to him. Something's gonna come to you He rings me up. And he he's in tears. You know, you guys should listen to him. And I said, No, No, you shouldn't have listened to me. I'm doing something very fucking stupid. You did it the way, it just happened to work differently for me. But, but I but bigger understanding what better stuff I've put in place to make sure that works. So anyway, we were going through the whole tape or the thing through an aggregator. Because the thing that sucks about the Amazons of the world and all these sort of guys, it's very hard for you, as an individual to get a movie up on these sites, Amazon, you could probably do it with a lot of dancing ants dicking around, but they all of them now are very, pretty much critiquing movies, you can just throw your movie up on all those T boards, you know, you could they will just go nuts Polish sticker Polish ship, now you're out. You know, so you've just made a movie, but then you realize I can't unload it anyway, because Amazon Amazon doesn't like it Apple doesn't like it. You know, Microsoft doesn't like it. IBM has like a Fandango don't like it all these were whoever these there's fucking list of mile long as you know, you still got to get it through all these people to get them to like your movie enough to put it on their platforms. And that's got to unfortunately, go through an aggregator which is another fucking annoying word, word for distributor, right? So there's always there's gonna be someone in your way, which is fine. And I don't know why Apple dot Apple should be, you know, the best movie upload site in the world is Vimeo on demand, but no one fucking watches it. No one uses it. No one uses it. But it is the best of the best of the best that the reason is, you could upload your movie in 4k 8k, glorious, beautiful viewing. It looks stunning on whatever you put it on. You can upload your movie or your subtitles, you can decide what countries you want to sell and everything and probably under five minutes. No one in your way. And they take 10% Thank you, Mark. It's so fucking simple. So when everyone wants to see my movie Now go make just go go to Vimeo it's gonna be easier. And I'll actually make 90%. Right instead of the other way, which is, you know, like, everyone else takes half and then other people and then there's the aggregator fee and there's blah, blah, blah. So anyway, I'm just gonna, I think Vimeo have actually got a great thing there. But I have no fucking idea because Vimeo just useless with the marketing and the way they've done things. That company is still doing what it's doing. It's obviously living off business, you know, sharing out of having an idea, but from a movie perspective, they if they invested in that properly, before indie filmmakers, they will just own that whole space.
Alex Ferrari 28:07
They bought a few HX back in the day VHS was that the all that software, all that technology was VHS. They bought it rebranded it under Vimeo Pro, or Vimeo movies or whatever it is, but they didn't do anything with it. And they never really market it. And there's, you're asking anytime you're asking someone to put a credit card in. It's a layer of resistance for them to product. But if you're on Amazon,
Mark Toia 28:35
Right, Bill, if I set up a PayPal Apple Pay or whatever through Amazon, it would be just click, click, click Run.
Alex Ferrari 28:41
But if it's Amazon, you collect if it's Apple TV, you click because you already have your information there.
Mark Toia 28:47
Yeah, but you know, Vimeo can set up those pay systems through there if they really if they really wanted to. Anyway, the fee about them on not doing an edge with Vimeo does exactly that's, that's the best platform to put up a tee, but your video but every other one is a bit of a pain in the ass. So anyway, we get accepted, you know, Apple, say, yeah, we'll put it on Amazon. But you know that, that still takes two to three months for that process to happen. And then you got there's a date that you want to do a release and you're trying to sync up everyone all at the same time to release on the special December 8. And everyone's telling me oh no, you're mad markets too close to Christmas. You know, the amount of times everyone told me I was mad right? Anyways. Okay, now go back a bit. This is where your book comes in. You got to sell it. No one knows that movie is going to be sitting on Apple TV or sitting on Amazon if you don't tell the world that. Now this is my big fundamental mistake I made. I was where I screwed up was I didn't spend enough in advertising. I should have spent a lot more and the movie would have got right out there because, you know, when you sell a movie on TV or P VOD, whatever you want to call it, there's a spike. It's a new movie, it's out, you know, so you got to create as much hype as you're doing. The studio's do it. Well, they might make a movie for $300 million, or $200 million, or whatever, they're going to spend the same amount again flogging it. I spent a million dollars on my movie, I should have spent a million dollars on advertising. Wow, it would have been a hell of a risk, sir. No, no, it wouldn't have been because I you could see all the stats and all the logistics, everything that comes to you and you had an analyst Analytics on your sales. This is a lot of stuff that distributors don't show you because they just give you the little email saying, Hey, you made $12 today, but the reality is you get a lot of information. Right? About who buys it, whereby is the time they buy it, the you know, the who's buying it, as well as when you do a lot of your digital marketing. With your Analytics, you can dig so deep into those analytics using, you know, female 14 RED CAR lives in Minnesota, whatever, you know, you can really nail down on your target market. So that means you're not wasting your money. Selling, you know, like on your phone monitors man's not turning up and as on some 64 year old grandmother's phone. Right? You are literally once you start getting all this stuff this information, and we did some test trailers that we threw out there. So we can see those test results. And then we were just we we did a little Indiegogo campaign. Not so much to make money from it. But more so sell our movie through that porthole. This was already remember. So what I did, I thought, well, let's do an Indiegogo campaign and say, Look, if everyone helps us with the advertising of our movie, everyone gets the movie free and odds and ends and all the extras and the behind the scenes and bla bla bla bla. And yeah, and I think about 25 $30,000 turned up, which I thought, Wow, that's great. Now, we already had like a quarter million dollars allocated for advertising. I just used that $25,000 From Indiegogo. We've done all our marketing, pre the movie, and we can see all our trailer data spiking so much that people were watching it all the way through, which is super uncommon. Now I'm in because I'm in the advertising game. I hear and I see all the data from a lot of my advertisers, you know, and because they share it with me, they want me to know, so that can help them make better commercials. And I'm looking at these and how long people are staying on my ads and and who is not staying on it. So I can see that there's this type of this group of people that drive black cars and live over here and this and others age, they're only watching it for seven seconds. Right? And these people are watching it for 30 seconds of these people watch it, you know, so I can really start getting my targeting right down. So we spent 25 grand on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, all that sort of stuff and just pumped it out there. And we worked out in that month later on. So that two weeks leading towards the release of our film, we had over 50 million people had seen our trailer. Wow for 25,000 but 25 grand 25 grand. So our advertising work. And mind you I edited 40 trailers different trailers, which we did only testing four weeks beforehand, right. So we we did a real study in what's going to work what's not going to work. You know what I mean? So the trailer that got put out, was it the trailer I liked, but it was the trailer the masses, like you know what I mean? So you got to start you don't make trailers for you. You make trailers for everyone else. You know, and the one we did the testimonials really worked hard. The one with Neal McDonough jumping up, you know, saying you know, what's your movie, you know, there's a few key key little shorter, a couple shorter spots that really resonated with the, with our research. So anyway, so I thought 50 million people faculty in our trailer, all I need is $1 for one of them one. I just need $1 from like 10% of these
Alex Ferrari 34:19
10 cents 10 cents would have been good.
Mark Toia 34:24
I'm not going to spend my spare quarter million dollars I've got put aside for advertising. We've done it we've we've hit advertising gold, and this is where I started to smell my own farts and they're all good smelling
Alex Ferrari 34:38
Mark Toia 34:44
And anyway, off it went it released. And it did great. It did great. But I knew a year later, if I spent that quarter million dollars over I spent a million dollars advertising. I've got it out well LiDAR, because it's amazing how many people don't even know my movie exists. 25 grand 50 million views is nothing. I realized that our, our base of interest needs to be upwards of 500 million people to make a decent dent on sales. Right. So that's a lot of advertising.
Alex Ferrari 35:25
So let me ask you a question. What was your ROI on the advertising money made? So like, for every dollar you spent in marketing, how much money did you make back? Give or take?
Mark Toia 35:35
25 or 25? Yeah, let's say on the 20. Okay, 25 grand, I know we made a million dollars. It worked, right?
Alex Ferrari 35:42
So it's not a bad. Right? All right. I just want I just want to kind of stuff
Mark Toia 35:51
That's in the first three months, too. So right. Now, the movie is still making money. Now. It's, it's still ticking away nicely. It's like a, it's an apartment building in the corner just ticking away rent.
Alex Ferrari 36:03
So the reason why I'm gonna stop here for a second. So I want to just kind of highlight a couple of things, you said that you're throwing out a lot of gold nuggets here, you offer off a 25 grand you were able to generate your budget back comfortably out of within three months. That's unheard of in marketing and market let's on heard of. But if you would have put in just a quarter of a million you might have been able to make 3456 $7 million possibly offer off of those three months it would that would have worked? Or do you think not?
Mark Toia 36:39
The more people that know about your movie, and the more hype you can build on about it? What do you think Marvel do it this way? Right? What do you do? What do you think all the big movies as spending so much money on advertising? awareness, awareness, awareness, awareness, right? Into the day with my 50 million people is really only one city in China. It's like, not much right? In the grand scheme of things. And it's, and it's saying that million dollars in three months, you know, that million dollars slowly comes in over 12 months, but that you can see that the you see the money being made, including all our international sales, which we'll talk about today. So we walk you through advertising, advertising advertising, I can't preach harder about that, actually. And that's where I think I made that that big mistake I go, Well, you know, we're in a very, very noisy world, right? It's a massively noisy world. There's so much shit on your phones. Now. It's hard to get cut through. Right? I wish I could still spend a million dollars. And you might see my ad, may you might, if you're lucky. I mean, you're in the film industry, you know me, you'll probably get it, you'll probably get hit by it. But your neighbor, who is probably in the Sci Fi films, how the fuck do you target him to your enemy. So you're trusting that the Facebook machine, the instant machine, the Tick Tock machine, the YouTube, the YouTube machine are going to maybe get near that individual for your million dollars. So you need to really think about your advertising your PR, you know, your little news, shit that goes out, everything's got to be very well thought out. Now, that's a lot of work. Again, if you're going to get a distributor to do this for you, who are going to say you're mad, right?
Alex Ferrari 38:40
But by the way, they would never work as hard. They would never work disarm unless they unless they're making tons of cash.
Mark Toia 38:47
You know, that would have and that they're not going to say to you, Hey, Mark, will sell your film and we're going to put a minute we're gonna invest a million dollars on advertising. Right? Because a lot of the guys a lot of the distributors, they know, right? They've been around the traps, they've sold their they've probably got 400 movies on their shelves, you know, rats and mice. That's how they make their money. They get the little percentage of each one of them little movies, and that's how they pay you know, silicones to college, right? But a huge advertising campaign like that off the back of one of these little indie films, that they would fucking shut you down and say you're crazy. But you do need the right product for it too. So if it's if it's just a couple of people running around, fucking Detroit shooting each other and raping their girlfriends and bragging you know, and shooting police and you know, just an action, drama or whatever. With No Name actors, you'd never spend a million dollars because it's you they already know that it's never got to do any better than probably pick up a few 100 grand in the in the trenches. You know what I mean? If they're lucky, with the little $6,000 advertising Um, budgets attached to it, that fully allocated to it. But my movie was that okay, let's go back a bit, a friend of mine from a company that has a big red lager, right? He gave me some data about what their AI robot says is hot right now. And in it, it said, explosions, you know, make sure this many people died, blah, blah, blah. But you know, it was literally a formula movie of just information that was coming into their business that would say they could understand research, they can understand who's watching and who's demanding what to watch. So I saw these 10 key points, action movie sci fi, this, that it literally had all this detail about what should be in a movie hit when what people are watching now. I went, well, that's probably an interesting, let's go make a robot movie. Right? And have some explosions. And we'll do this, we'll do that. So so the movie wasn't like a brainchild movie of mine, which I've been sitting on that script for fucking 10 years. And then I've and I'm 50 drafts in. It's it's one or two draft film, which I was going to polish as we were going with the actors, because I know actors bring a lot to the table. And with all the special effects and all that sort of stuff, I mean, we're going to talk about that later to a bit of what how we did that. But the knowing that the my movie was going to take a lot of boxes when it came to sales. I had an a sort of a name actor in there with Neil, right? He's enough for to give the movie street cred. Everyone loves it.
Alex Ferrari 41:56
Everyone knows his face. Everybody.
Mark Toia 41:58
Everyone knows him everyone loves him. He's a tough guy. He's great for putting in your film, right? But he's not going to make you any money. He's just going to get better. He's going to help you sell the movie. But when you go didn't do all your sales internationally, and all that sort of stuff. They go, Oh, I know that guy. What's his name? All right. So and next thing, it helps you get it over the line. So it's not like nails, nails, not not a list of by any stretch, but he gives them in restricted. I wish I'd put a couple of millennials in there as well. Right, just a few more, and I think we're doing a movie shortly. Just another fun movie like this.
Alex Ferrari 42:36
Jesus Christ I've
Mark Toia 42:37
I've been I want to have a massive ensemble cast and they have liked it. And we just had fun with it, you know? And that, you know, that's another thing. So, so then we were just jumping off track here.
Actually, you know, we were branching off a little we're branching off a lot of things, but not what you said. Is
Pull me back in line Alex.
Alex Ferrari 42:56
I'll bring you back. I'll bring you back in sir. So you're TVODing. You're sending things out your marketing like crazy. How many months do you go through transactional before you decide to go to SVOD or prime?
Mark Toia 43:10
Okay, mistake number two. Mistake number two. Fuck as far as what to go in ate shit all day every day.
Alex Ferrari 43:22
By the way you did get an offer from from that big. That big streamer that hasn't been as well. It's all but you decided not to go with him?
Mark Toia 43:33
Here? I don't I don't streaming is a very it's true streaming is the cancer of indie film, as you know.
Alex Ferrari 43:41
Right industry agreed agreed.
Mark Toia 43:44
I decided it's my movies doing so well on TV. It's sort of fit the curve is bumping down. Right. But so did my advertising too. I probably could have kept it propped up longer. got convinced to get put it on Prime put on prime is screaming for this. You know they want it they want to prime Amazon. We want it we want it. It goes under Prime. I am top five in America for four weeks. On prime. It's getting smashed. Millions of people have watched my movie now. In America. I see one or two or three cents per per view. I might as well just fucking given it to them. Right? It is a total waste of time. There is no economic sense to put your movie on prom. no economic sense at all. Don't put it on Prime don't put it near any streaming network. You see pennies, pennies.
Alex Ferrari 44:49
But you're saying
Mark Toia 44:50
I might have made 100 or 200 grand millions of people watch my movie and I made a couple undergrad done nothing.
Alex Ferrari 44:57
Now you're saying now you're saying that and I want I want to kind of put things into perspective here. You're also making a good amount of money and transactional, where most independent filmmakers are. They don't even they can't make money and transactional because they don't know how to drive traffic. So the only thing that they have is the potential of A prime and A VOD, which we're gonna get to in a minute. But hopefully with this conversation, people will try to give transactional again, again, it has to be the right product, you add the right product. I mean, it's, it's an easy sell. It's killer robots that look as good as anything the studio put out with great action, explosions and things like that people are going to watch that. But you're absolutely right. It's s VOD, and Amazon Prime and those kinds of places. It is and that, by the way, is not a VOD, and we're gonna get to advertising. This is subscription based stuff. It is not that. It's horrible. It's horrible. I wanted to know those numbers. Because I know you had it on there. You're like, yeah, I made a couple 100 grand off of top five on Amazon, like top five period, beating studios.
Mark Toia 46:04
It was sitting there forever. My friends are ringing me for America go fuck. It's still there.
Alex Ferrari 46:09
And you're like, you must be making tons No, you are making
Mark Toia 46:12
I thought I thought fact this is it new by by flying to the jet fuel the jet, you know, if TJ it was underway, anyway.
Alex Ferrari 46:27
Okay, so that's not that's strange.
Mark Toia 46:30
As far as I'm concerned, subscription based. Movies is what have devalued the world's movies. Because now if for seven bucks a month, you can go and watch 100 movies a week, you know, to make you good, right? mess yourself with it. And yeah, subscription company make a fortune because they will they need us subscribers, paying $7 each. Millions of those boom, they make money. But the actual people that own those movies and make those movies. Make nothing. Make nothing. So is avoid, as you know, and you might get the random, you might get Netflix or someone ringing up and saying hey, we'll, we'll buy it off you for a turn. But the amount they offer you is nothing. They're quite happy to go and spend copious amounts of money making that film for themselves if they owned it, but now that it's made, it's not it's worthless. It's they feel that like what's already made, you've already made the film, his first strapping stranger grant, because look, make it they would, they would have blown $10 million and making the damn thing you don't
Alex Ferrari 47:41
They want to meet, they would have spent 10 million bucks to make monsters of man easily. And they would have easily been spent 10 If not more to make a movie like that. But when you want something like that drops in their plate, they should be like, You know what, let's give you about a couple mil for this because this is this is
Mark Toia 47:56
What he would do with a couple of bills that those days are long gone. You You're so fucking three years ago.
Alex Ferrari 48:04
Exactly. I agree. No, I agree. I agree with you. I understand. doesn't pay any I mean, Amazon, Netflix or Amazon? Nobody pays anything anymore. Those days are those days are gone. All right. So you went to SVOD. But you still have transactional running. So people are still you know,
Mark Toia 48:19
I'm leaving it there forever. And I after you know, a couple of months. As far as I saw the numbers like I've got the I can jump you know the aggregator on it with is allowed me passwords to see inside Amazon. So I can see every great idea. By the way, every everyone out there. If you're distributors, you want to be super transparent. And then no one's gonna try and race back. You know, they're not going to try and kill you in the street. Just see the real data and you'll be and you'll have some good trust there. Right? So anyway, I see all that information firsthand. I go through it every week still. And I can see if I'm if I made 22 cents or $20,000 whatever. It's just all the data. I saw the prime data. I was like, Holy shit, this is like pillaging and raping my movie. You know what I mean? It's like, now all those potential T VOD. People have now watched it for three cents for nothing. You don't I mean, a big marketplace just got destroyed by amazon prime. So, you know, that's the system they ran. That's fine. That's their life. I mean, I made the mistake of jumping on it. So you know,
Alex Ferrari 49:33
Pull it out and you pull it out or you left it there. Oh, yeah.
Mark Toia 49:38
Get the fuck out of there. You don't have it? I mean, the IMD TVs that all that sort of on our note, we're going up to a five now Okay,
Alex Ferrari 49:46
That's a bad. So I see the paper transaction was still going and you're still making money on transactional even during that time.
Mark Toia 49:52
Okay. So, anyway, but my advertising has stopped. I'm a bit To remember back on relaunching the movie again, which is another thing.
Alex Ferrari 50:05
Which Yeah, because Because, look, the thing is, it's not like the olden days where a movie comes out big, big hoopla everybody knows about it. And everybody knows is really most people in this world do not know that your movie was ever released. So it's brand new to that. So you can read remarket It read, put it out there, and see what happens. Alright, so now you're still making money off a transaction on may
Mark Toia 50:29
Have bested that already, by the way. And that's gonna work.
Alex Ferrari 50:33
Exactly, exactly. So then you go into the AVOD world, which is arguably the only place that independent filmmakers are truly making money in today's world. Unless you are you unless you know how to drive traffic to a transactional and have an audience that's willing to pay for your product. A VOD is honestly the only place that people are making money from my understanding what's your experience?
Mark Toia 50:55
And not for long? Is the bad news?
Alex Ferrari 50:59
Okay, tell me tell me tell me.
Mark Toia 51:02
Yeah, I bought we dropped out on Shooby and yeah, it exploded it was bad went off. It's good, great. Daddy goods and Bad's of Avon. The good thing with with Tubi is it's small and growing fast. It's full of low weight indie films. And even though my my movie pokes its head at the top of the poo, right? It's still it's still in, it's still making money. What's happening now is the studios with their massive banks of movies over the last 40 years, damping under tubing. So all of a sudden, all your indie films are going to be lost. Right? You're going to be forced down the bottom of the pile again. It's still there. People can still watch it you can still drive people to to be to search it. Or there's this monster the man there. It's you know, getting buried right now. Right now it's getting buried tube Shooby can't put these these Hollywood movies on with Hollywood stars. They can't put that shit on quick enough right now.
Alex Ferrari 52:17
Right! Because you've, you've got like a 10 year old Brad Pitt movie, and actually be like, kill me softly or something like that. And yeah, people like autumn forgot about that movie. Let me watch that. That's going to be watched every day over an independent film. And it's so funny you say that? Because in T VOD indies, where That's where money was made first, then S VOD Indies. That's where the money was made for. Netflix was bought. Nope. Netflix was buying.
Mark Toia 52:43
If it were bought,
Alex Ferrari 52:46
No, no, they were buying independent projects, independent films. And they were spending money on Amazon was at Sundance and everybody. So same thing happened in the studio is like no, no, shoot, and then diluted that then a VOD. Oh, god, oh, God, Oh, God. And then now the studios are dumping that in. The next one is YouTube. And the studios have yet to do that. And you in the YouTube world there. They do clips and they're monetizing the clips off of their movies. But they're not putting their full movies up for free yet. But that's the next place.
Mark Toia 53:16
I will because I'm in talks with them now. So yeah, it's happening. But here's what's happening, right? Here's what's happening with a VOD space. Like things evolved so quickly. As you know, it's just nuts. You think if you only a little, you think you found a little Goldmine, right? You think you found that you're there? And you're like, This is it and then it gets everyone else finds the same goldmine. Everyone piles into the same goldmine. So, you know, for instance, Netflix, I bet you know, not a word of a lie. I have no idea where
Alex Ferrari 53:54
They're going AVOD. Oh, there you go. Oh, no, they're gonna absolutely there's no question in my mind that Netflix in the next two years will have an AVOD option, like Hulu does.
Mark Toia 54:05
All of her will be everyone will be AVOD. And then to be will be the little lonely kid in the corner that started the whole fucking shit show. They will be there back with all their indies again.
Alex Ferrari 54:20
And nobody's gonna want to go over there again. But But yeah, because now because now to be is going to have to fight paramount, Disney, all of them will eventually have a AVOD option. If you want to spend your money. You wanna spend 15 bucks a month or 10 bucks a month, you could do an ad free. So they'll still have both revenues. And they're going to be happy because imagine right now if HBO goes advertising, AVOD, how many people who jump on it watch HBO? How many people watch Disney plus more than they do now? It's I want people to understand how difficult it is to me. Make Money With a movie in today's marketplace. It's absolutely cutthroat brutal. I, you know, I'm going to be speaking at AFM this year, I'll be there in November. I'm dying to see what everybody's talking about and what everyone's because from my experience going to the market, everybody's just like, I don't know what, I don't know, maybe this maybe that nobody knows no distributor really knows what's going to happen the next three or four years. No. So that's why your case study so interesting.
Mark Toia 55:30
Distributors work, distributors work less their sales on commodity. Right? Right. Their business is not about selling movies, their business is about collecting movies. So the more movies they need, the more movies they have, and the libraries, the more little rats and mice you know that it just sprinkles money on them little bits of money, but it all adds up in the end of the day. And we get it you know, so if you're gonna do that, get a distributor to help you he number one transparency. Try and get that person 15% or less and, and flog the advertising yourself as hard as he can, even though they want to do it. They're going to charge you for it and probably spend a quarter of what they've told you they're going to spend, right,
Alex Ferrari 56:28
Which was then you're going to spend the money on the advertising then at the end of the day? Why the hell are you gonna go with them? Maybe Maybe you can make a deal to get into AVOD or something like that? I don't know. Alright, sorry. So I want to I do want to ask you about the Teva. What is the platform that made you the most money Apple, Amazon? Google, what was the platform that in order? Because a lot, there's a lot of myths about Amazon? Which one Amazon
Mark Toia 56:51
Was probably 70%.
Alex Ferrari 56:54
Wow. And that's a that's so valuable for people to understand. Because a lot of people still think that Apple and iTunes is the place to rent, but they're like, oh, I have to be on iTunes. iTunes at the beginning of the TV. Revolution was the place to be but Amazon is just everybody's on Amazon.
Mark Toia 57:12
I think. I think Amazon has just everyone's got an Amazon account buying shit online, right? So a lot of people have prime accounts, their prime accounts, it just comes with when you subscribe when you order your toilet paper online, you get your free ship.
Alex Ferrari 57:28
You got free shipping, you've got Amazon Prime.
Mark Toia 57:30
Yeah, very clever. Very, very clever. Amazon, Amazon is a beast, you know, it makes good money. It you know, when you look at all your data that comes online through their through the portal, you get to see all your sales. You you could do it yourself, you're getting initially loaded up on Amazon yourself hoping that they like it. You don't I mean, if it's thinking part ship, they will just pull it off over time.
Alex Ferrari 57:57
Yeah, without warning, without warning. Without warning, we weren't gonna pull it off staff, they'll just pull things off.
Mark Toia 58:04
It's not making money. I can, I can see why. Right? Because data, data costs money, and they just got so much stuff sitting up online at the moment.
So okay, so yeah, Apple TV, I got it.
I got fleeced by Apple, oh, not so much by Apple. But they've got these recommended list of aggregators.
Alex Ferrari 58:24
I think was one of those distributor was one of those months, a long time ago.
Mark Toia 58:30
Apple just seem to hire or the gun owners at Apple seem to recommend all the sharks, you know, anyway, is company surname unnamed, and we're trying to sue them at the moment, but they literally stole most of our apple profits. So they probably still owe us a half a million dollars or more, and maybe even more, I mean, we literally physically the take the movie down from Apple, wait three months and then put it back up again, like very disruptive from that angle. But Apple is a big apple and a big earner. As much as Amazon Amazon is the machine Apple is next. Believe it or not. The Google Google Play SEO slash YouTube sales were very good as well. And Microsoft was amazing.
Alex Ferrari 59:22
It was even on Playstation and all that. X box. Yeah.
Mark Toia 59:28
The next Xbox PlayStation, whatever it was that no, not PlayStation, new Xbox. That's one.
Alex Ferrari 59:34
What else but that makes sense with your kind of,
Mark Toia 59:36
You know, the fan dangos and the videos and all that. Don't waste your fucking time. Nobody. I think we got like $14 You know?
Alex Ferrari 59:49
That's really good. That's really good information for people listening out there because a lot of times they'll spend all this money with aggregators, like I gotta have it on Fandango and on Vudu and I'm like, no, no I always tell him I have always said I've always consulted filmmakers to do Amazon. I go iTunes is vanity that's a vanity play just to say to people I'm on a habit you still making
Mark Toia 1:00:09
Money there and a lot of people out here in my house for instance, we don't we don't buy shit from Prime I don't
Alex Ferrari 1:00:15
Either I use Apple TV, but those are the two words that you really if you're going to spend money Amazon Apple, maybe Google maybe play maybe
Mark Toia 1:00:25
I'm finding myself now I'm starting to buy more movies. I mean, I've got all the isopods right, I've got the primes the fact that this that they're all They're all a thumbprint away but it's all it's it's love it's a scrap it you know maybe I'll watch too much and I've gone through all the good stuff but you've reached the end of the good but now I've got well here's the latest Elvis just turned up you know? I'll just a bite 25 bucks fucking What the hell is this? Bring me Elvis into my room. You know? I've got a really nice theater in our in our house. So it's like I've seen scrapes.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:04
I've seen pictures of your theater sir it's it's embarrassing. So you should be you should be ashamed of yourself.
Mark Toia 1:01:10
It is not that expensive to set up by the by the way.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:13
They're not as much as they used to be. That's for sure. Now, okay, so with Avon so in a in the Avon world what are the rankings to be number one and I know IMDb TV which is now free V is I heard that's doing really well. And so what an Avon Where are you making your money?
Mark Toia 1:01:34
The AMD IMDb TV in the UK is going great guns at the moment.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:41
Which has now turned into Freeview, by the way, and I think that's changed, I think in the UK as well.
Mark Toia 1:01:46
What you know, whatever they were Yeah, they rebranded it. And then he went, we're not on all the AVOD yet, because I'm still, I'm still I'm still up in here, but I thought I mean, it's there and it's gonna sit there for next 20 years bubbling away. But you're still gonna drive traffic to it. But you can make more money still, I can get one sale on tabled. Right, which equates to 50 people watching my movie on Avon. Does that make sense?
Alex Ferrari 1:02:20
It makes sense the world? Yeah, absolutely. That's fine, if you can, but you gotta find a customer that's willing to pay for it. Either rented, or so you can obviously
Mark Toia 1:02:30
I'm going to spend that money. I'm gonna get I'm gonna do a new advertising campaign. And you know, I'm gonna throw 1000s at it. And it's going to be because I know every time we have put advertising in, we see massive spikes in sales. So the other day, I just did one as a bit of a macro and just a play thing. Right? I put $1,000 in and we got like 70 grand for the sales. Extra sales.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:54
How much did you put in $1,000. So just so you're getting a seven to a return on your on your money on $1.
Mark Toia 1:03:04
That's more excessive as a 349 percenter.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:07
Yeah, exactly. So you're sure you're not doing bad. I mean, I'll do that all day. But just keep putting money in and you keep again, the ROI. Why not? You put $1 in you get $8 out of it.
Mark Toia 1:03:18
Yeah, all of a sudden, you don't see the intern coming in with your advertising going in, he just fucking turn it off. But end of the day, just believe it there. I mean, the sales from that area, just just topping up your advertising spend. So it's just, it's just a cyclic system. It's very basic and simple. Yeah. And I'm thinking about and the original name of my movie was robot four. Do I relaunch the movie again as robot four and put up the 90 minute one, you know, I don't know. All these things that go through my mind.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:49
You could you could do the Director's Cut
Mark Toia 1:03:52
Robot for the target is the is the cut down.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:57
You know, the thing that's wonderful about your story is that you are generating revenue you've you've turned your movie into a money making machine, which is exactly what the book talks about how to turn your movie into a money making machine. You've been able to do that using all these little tools and tricks and stuff. Did you generate I saw that you selling or at least you're focusing energy on the single from the music single. Is that something you own? Are you just trying to give love to the artist on your ear?
Mark Toia 1:04:24
Well, that's my daughter sung that song at the end. Oh, wow. That's awesome. She did great. It's very accomplished musician, singer songwriter. She was living in Sweden at the time. And I said hey, do you want to do a song for the movie? And she goes Yeah, cuz I stress her out apparently. Shocking. Anyway, she sent it to me she was shooting herself and she sent me the sent me the track. We checked it on the timeline at the end. Let's drop this straight over and it was perfect. I got it's great darlin love it. She's like, What? Do you want me to change anything? I said, No. That's your piece of art. And we're going to have as your family. My son helped help me shoot the film. My wife helped me produce the film. My daughter wrote a little tiny piece of music at the end of it.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:16
You don't degenerate, degenerate, generate revenue. Has she generated any revenue with sales from that song or now?
Mark Toia 1:05:23
Oh, she's made a few cents. You know, the music industry is
Alex Ferrari 1:05:27
Just as bad as Spotify, how much do you make negative two cents every time you owe us money every time someone plays it.
Mark Toia 1:05:37
Spotify started the whole cancer is subscription based bullshit. I mean, I've got a lot of disdain for that model. Because it you know, when we're thinking about Netflix, I suppose is Netflix will find a filmmaker with a good idea. Give them the money to go and make the movie. Give them their producers fee directors fee. And that's it. They'll keep the movie and fuck you off. And that's it. And it's all done. So Netflix is great for creating content and paying crew and directors and producers that didn't have the money to make that movie. And do it themselves. You know what I mean? So good on good on Netflix for that. But it's sad when they see a great movie, but they won't pay that filmmaker what that movie is at least cost at least what it costs the anatomy or what they what it could be worth in the marketplace. I've seen a lot of my friends that have sold to Netflix and they are like getting chump change.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:48
You know that way forever and waiting forever for that chump change? Yeah, oh, yeah.
Mark Toia 1:06:53
Well, yeah, the deals are very long, like long, like, oh, yeah, three, three year deals, and they get paid once a year dividend. And if they don't, if it's not really working, and that's falling off the grid a bit they'll just they'll drop it year after year. I'm sure there's a whole bunch of different deals going through. I don't really know in detail. I don't really want to know it's I just see my my filmmaking friends all upset. They've cried their beer in front of me.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:23
So somebody asked you so let me ask you then you because we've kind of hinted about this during the conversation. You use this as a calling card for for Hollywood to go off and do some movies. You from our from our past conversations, which will you know, we won't say who, but you've had some pretty big players in the in the studio system call you about possibly doing some work and you talk whatever you can say about that? Let me know. Can you talk about it?
Mark Toia 1:07:52
It is a few little India haste. But yeah, the biggest, the biggest of the biggest, the biggest, the biggest of court, and the smallest of the smallest of court, or, you know, everyone in between? Yeah, I've been probably sent well over 100 scripts, I think since the movies come out. I've attempted to read most of them. But if they don't have me in the first 10 pages, I'm fuckin I'm out, you know. But it's, you know, I, it's a hard game, even for the studios, right. But they might have the money, they might have the clout, they might have everything, but there's a big, there's big machines attached to a lot of it. And I'm wary to do the big the big John studio job next, because I know I'm gonna have a bit of a hand up the coin puppet thing, you know, I'm gonna be and, and really, they're not going to get my full potential because they literally it's going to be directed from the sidelines. Right? Don't say why ring me. I mean, what they need, they just they need to employ. And this is why a lot of young directors that are shot short films are doing massive blockbusters, because the studio just needs a pop up in there to, to strike together. They've already directed it, they already know what it's going to be like, have you done? Yeah. You know, the, there's, there's 10 directors on that movie, and it's not the one that they hired, you know, he's just pieces, maybe the full guy. Right and the thing, and you go and do those big movies and it doesn't do well and your career is over and done with the rest of your life. It's all finished. You know? So I've been very careful with who I jump in bed with. And a lot of them tell you, a lot of them tell you on my mind is going to be your vision. You've got total creative control, blah, blah, blah. But you know, that's complete utter bullshit, right? You know, give me finally come out of the come
Alex Ferrari 1:09:59
It asked for final cuts, see what happens.
Mark Toia 1:10:05
Look, I love anomalous in respect to all the guys that have called me and the people we're still talking to. And we've, we've got this, there's a half dozen guys with their films, the big, biggest well known producers and they've got some really great script ideas. I'm really excited actually about what's coming up. Now, the thing is, they are still at the mercy of actors. They are still at the mercy of they don't get money unless they're like the signs. They're still going to try and convince that actor that Mark Toya is the director for the job. Right. So there's all these hurdles, I might have opened the door nice and wide, and everyone's jumping on the mat train because they go well, toy just made a fucking movie, what would have cost us catering money, you know, and he's made a whole movie of our catering budget. And it's, it's pretty good. And like, and that's why I'm jumping on because they see me as a bit of a meal ticket in that sense, which is great. And I want them to see me as a meal ticket. Yes, I can do all the special effects myself. I shoot myself I do everything else whole lot myself and I can do that stuff so swiftly and easily. And then I know how to break the rules. I don't need the technic cranes, I don't need all that shit. That complicates the movie and makes the movie massively expensive. And they still get their big budget looking movie for probably quarter the price. So and they know that it's so hard for them now to make movies to make profit on a movie. So all of a sudden people like me that are sort of multi skill are we become a commodity we become the the, the little goldmine for a bit, so. So I've proven that with the monster movie, the monsters Man movie. Now I just need to prove to that. So same people that I can do deep drama as well. So then I'm going to do another film where it's going to be very, very active driven. And that will just tick off that box. I can do the action and I can do
Alex Ferrari 1:12:12
Now are you going to release it the same way? Or what are you going to do with that one? It worked. Yeah, but but there's no explosives. No killer robots are so I'm not sure if the drop explosions.
Mark Toia 1:12:28
Goes in there. And he's, you know, in a gun, he holds up a petrol station in LA and we blow up the petrol station, right? So it's an explosion. Maybe there's an explosive you're in a trailer moments. Seriously, if you're gonna sell a movie, you need moments in that trailer where people go, this looks fucking cool. Right? It does. It can't be stupid, right? Dramas don't sell every distributor in the world will come until here. Unless you got Meryl Streep and the bloody thing. It won't sell. And even if it has Meryl Streep in it doesn't wait, I still don't know. Right? So if you're going to do a nice beautiful drama, or you know, a love story, whatever the odds are you making $1 Lucky next to nothing.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:16
And also, by the way, you also saw you also sold this one to territories individually, right? So you're doing that as well?
Mark Toia 1:13:22
Yes, yes. It's in about 140 Different countries now. You know, we need some to a region, you know, like to Japan, French speaking countries, all of a sudden, that's combines 30 countries or something. But it's not hard to you know, it's nice to say yo sometime in 50 countries, but the reality is we've sold it to, you know, probably a dozen or more regions that encompass those countries. But yeah, now we've done pretty good out of that.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:51
Yeah, it does
Mark Toia 1:13:54
Automate a lot more. I mean, um, during I think it was I think it might have been What's the fucking dodgy show? You love guarantee that AFM
Alex Ferrari 1:14:04
Mark Toia 1:14:04
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, there was a guy there. And he rang me up. He said, I'll give you a million dollars for the movie. For international sales, right? I should have just given it to him, because international size is such a pain in the ass.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:17
But that's a whole other level of crazy.
Mark Toia 1:14:21
Yeah, it is a whole lot of little crazy. And you know, the Germans are ringing up in the gate. Oh, Mike, we love your movie. It's fucking great. But our AI robots have scanned your movie, and we've found 137 problems with it, and what type of problems? So you go down to the timecode. And there's like a pixel out that no one will ever see me fix that and they go, Well, there's a little bit of artifacting and I go what it's fucking stock footage, of course, it's gonna have an artifact and I've destroyed the QC QC here. So all the QC stuff and you just go out of it. I think we're probably out of the 100 Something comments is probably false. Things that were okay. There is a tiny is a missing frame or something which you can watch that movie 1000 times and never seen the missing frame. But the robot picked it up. Anyway. So you fucking around the Germans for six eight months just trying to get your movie kisi where everyone else it's playing around the world and no one else has any other problem with
Alex Ferrari 1:15:23
Germans but Germany history right?
Mark Toia 1:15:25
They paid well. In France The French paid well and I've purpose OMA to this thing. I've purposely kept all the English speaking countries for myself. You know, America, Canada's Australia, New Zealand, blah blah But anyway that they speak English I've I'm not going to sell the rights to the movie for the analysts they and this is a nice fat check that the Netflix or the Amazon has ring up and just dangle a carrot which they won't, completely won't. But it's a I love keeping the English speaking one for myself, because that's the one that's going to just keep churning over for me forevermore. You've got probably one distributor rang me saying, you know, telling me everything I wanted to hear. Which is great. They always do. But they he said this thing's probably got with his body of work that he's got that he's selling. He said you probably got another 1015 years. Because it's a relatively current subject. The post production is done really well. It's not shot in a city that's going to age race. In that age is the movie is Neal McDonough has a wire coming out of the zero everyone's Bluetooth now. I don't fuck it. Maybe I'll just paint the wire. There you go.
Alex Ferrari 1:16:44
There you go. Now is there gonna be a sequel? Nah. You left us open at the end.
Mark Toia 1:16:52
Come on, you know I did on purpose. It's it. They could be there's a lot of a lot of people have rung me not a lot. There's been a few people that have rung me again. Hey, can we do? Can we do the second version? You know, we'll pay for it right at the 100 bucks. Nice. But we want you to direct it. No. And get back to me. You know, I'm not listing no time into it. You guys want to go and do that. And that's fine. You go nuts and get back to me and we'll we'll decide then. So, but I like to do a I'd like to do Monsters and Men too. It'd be it wouldn't be fun. Yeah, it wouldn't be fun. It literally is opened up to go bigger. Because when I was making the movie, I thought Fuck, I just want to go full Michael Bay. If
Alex Ferrari 1:17:47
We're gonna give you some money for this, you're like, Okay,
Mark Toia 1:17:50
If I start doing movies to studios, I'm going to try and convince them to fucking do a Michael Bay execution. So.
Alex Ferrari 1:17:57
So my question to you is, sir, do you regret reading Rise?
Mark Toia 1:18:06
Well, again, I didn't read the book. Sorry. I don't like killing trees. But listen, the the ebook was fantastic. And and I've recommended it to a lot of people, don't you worry.
Alex Ferrari 1:18:19
No, no, thank you. I appreciate that.
Mark Toia 1:18:22
It's, it's, you know, you probably just need to do a, what I call the addition to Oh, yeah.
Alex Ferrari 1:18:30
I got up there. Yeah, there's,
Mark Toia 1:18:33
Yeah, it might have to do with every year because she changes so fast.
Alex Ferrari 1:18:37
I mean, a lot of the core concepts and they're still gonna be good for their evergreen. But there's some things that I wish I knew I needed an expanded edition, I need to do a second edition and the third edition and a fourth.
Mark Toia 1:18:47
I can't recommend it highly enough. It is that book is a lot. Like I said, when I was listening to it all says God, it's so fucking logical. Right? It's so logical. And within, you know, there's so many alarm bells in the film industry. So many alarm bells. If you were an indie guy wanting to make a movie, you really need to go to therapy first, because and read your book. I was one of the lucky ones. But I the amount of effort and energy I put in behind my movie to make sure it didn't fail was extraordinary.
Alex Ferrari 1:19:32
And you also you also have massive volume of of expertise, education, knowledge about all the things you're doing. So you also are on an anomaly in your own right, just yourself. So it takes a lot to do what you've done without question. Yeah,
Mark Toia 1:19:51
I mean, look, I've I know the whole production production thing. I've been doing posts forever. So I can post a movie on On my laptop, on an airplane, same here, I can make an 8k movie, like literally in my on my laptop where other people have got to go to a post test and they get completely, like, right. Like that they will you'll be getting of getting big bill if you did it that way. Right? That you know just you know people go I've made a movie for 30 grand. I said Yeah, but by the time we do proper sound, proper everything so you can sell it to certain companies this law that's going to cost more than your movie, if you want to do it. Because these companies might even take your movie with your shitty stereo sound that you did in Premiere? You don't I mean, they certainly do this the stems, you need to supply a loan,
Alex Ferrari 1:20:48
Oh, my God, just the deliverables? And then you get into QC with the pixel here and the pixel there that
Mark Toia 1:20:55
Oh. And the reality is no reality is that so overcooked, and so overhyped, I think that's been manufactured by postales is to give them more work. But the reality is that the amazing content you see on YouTube now done by young kids at home, and we got these amazing pieces of content, no one cares about a visa fucking missing frame or a pixel out or whatever. And it looks fantastic. So a lot of that the film Qc is just a lot of shit.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:26
I wouldn't I would agree with you 100%. And, and by the way, if you do have a distributor that will take that crappy version with a crappy audio, I promise you, they'll never get to pay, you know,
Mark Toia 1:21:37
If they because they will have to be fixing it.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:40
Yes. If they fix it, or they just put it out the way it is. And they just don't care. And they're just gonna see whatever money trickles in, like you say the little, the little, the little, the little crumbs that get thrown off of it.
Mark Toia 1:21:51
It is on the front for the record, I don't want to diss on distributors because distributors are there for a reason that they're there to fulfill a job that you're too lazy or inexperienced to do you have into I walked into this completely an experience. I've come out of fucking swiss army knife. You don't I mean, and so I know other pieces. So now I know what a real distributor should be doing. Right? I couldn't do it.
Alex Ferrari 1:22:26
But you're but you know what? You're absolutely right. And it's not that we rag on distributors, distributors have a job to do. And there are good ones out there. It's just the majority of them.
Mark Toia 1:22:36
Other great ones? Not not that great. And yeah, and there's distributors that have a lot of reach. And there's ones that don't, you know, right? There's no fun and games. You know, for example, this is what a movie is worth now, now that the stream has literally devalued a feature film, to literally is now officially a feature film has now officially officially worth about three cents. That's what your feature film is worth in the marketplace. three cents. That's really sad when you say that, right? And I say that three cents, because if the movie will eventually end up in a vote or SVOD or wherever, but that's probably all you're gonna get from your movie. After your TV, VOD experience is about three cents, every time someone watches it. So, you go now, I sold a little bit of stock footage the other day, right to Netflix, for you know, through, you know, through our through just through our stuff, guys. And I made $1,500 for five seconds. Oh, yeah. Well, you know, from an advertising perspective, that's great. So the thing is, how is a movie was so much work and effort from hundreds of people worth three cents when people watch it. But your stock footage, it was a picture of a fucking stop sign, like hundreds of dollars for
Alex Ferrari 1:24:09
So, so perfect example is look, I'll give you a perfect example. Let's say tomorrow, I open up a new service that allows you to get bananas on demand. Demand any anytime you want a banana, you just have to just open up your your your your, your, your cupboard, and there's a banana there because I've set up a technology that allows you to do the bananas before bananas used to cost you know, 69 cents a pound 99 cents a pound, which is not a lot of money, but there's a lot of volume in bananas. Now I've essentially brought down bananas to less than less than a penny, per thing. All of the hundreds of 1000s of people that go into creating bananas, cultivating them, packing them, picking them, packing them, shipping them, all of that all those people, how are they going to be living and that's exactly what's happening to us. as filmmakers we are, we're not able to make a living doing this. And you and I are both old enough of similar vintage to remember, the 80s, the 90s, and even the early 2000s, where you can make crap movies and make a lot of money with it. But now, you can't. And the distributors are still trying to figure it out all of them. The studios are trying to figure it out, which is which is the biggest studio in Hollywood right now. The one that makes the most money
Mark Toia 1:25:26
Would have no idea Disney, Disney.
Alex Ferrari 1:25:30
Now why is Disney make the most money? Because they use the film intrapreneur model. Because I didn't invent it. They've been doing it since the day of seven, the seven dwarfs the second they put Mickey Mouse on a t shirt. They started making money outside the film industry. So now where are they? So where are they making their money's when they do a Marvel movie or Star Wars movie or frozen. They made a billion dollars off the dresses and frozen alone. According to my according to my friend who works at Disney, a billion off the first movie. And that movie, by the way, made a billion in the box office. And they made they make more money off of everything else they sell them the actual movies is that they stopped being a movie studio a long time ago. They're about selling baby Yodas. That's what they want to sell that Mandalorian makes them some money, but it's a marketing tool. And that's what the film intrapreneur method is all about. It's about doing that, but for the independent, and focusing on niches and all that kind of stuff. But, but that's that's and that's the future. And that's why a lot of these other studios are having more difficult times surviving, and making, you know, making money because it's just I don't know where this all gonna go, my friend. But your story is very inspirational. I wanted to have you back on. So thank you so much for being so candid, and open with the audience and with the tribe about your, your, your adventures over the last two years getting this movie out into the world. And of course, when you make your next movie, we will be here to hear what happens with that one as well. And and if you do decide to make one of those big movies, please come back. I want to love to hear this. The stories from the inside of the studio
Mark Toia 1:27:11
Yeah, look, I think I will I will because it's you know, I've got a lot of a lot of time for you, Alex, and the information you give to a lot of filmmakers, because I see a lot of young fellas making movies or young people sorry, not young fellows, but young people making movies, and I'm already looking at dead people walking, right? In many ways. You're absolutely right. And I want to go over there and just say Look, don't don't can't, you know, they've got to go down the path of creating something you don't I mean, creating something to sell. And it's either I think telling a movie is like writing a book, right? For a writer writing a book, or cooking the best fucking food of his life for a filmmaker, creating the best movies can with his own hands. It's a creative release. And it's great if you get if you've got a rich dad or a mom or whatever, that it's just going to dump money on you to go and make your movie and have fun. But the reality is, if you're going to use other people's money, there's a responsibility there. And either, you're never going to be, you're always gonna have this monkey on your back. If you borrow money from the accountant down the road and aren't married, and someone's mortgaged their house, and you go and make a movie, and it doesn't make any money, right? forevermore, the stress that will be upon your head. And the reason why you're not going to make money is not because you might make the most amazing film look like you know, we had a little breakthrough with our one and it did everything right and you got your money back. But the odds if you don't do everything right, you know, and it doesn't work it's going to in the odds are it's not this I don't even know I've I've I know countless filmmakers, independent but myself truly independent guys that have made movies and reached out to me. And literally none of them have got a good story for me. You don't I mean, that religiously ringing me up asking me how. And it's really, really sad that the some of the stories I've heard have been decimated, I mean, terrible. And I've showed them ago. I'm going to tell you my process and that's where I fucked up there. Well, that's okay. That's fine. And you know, and I fucked up in certain areas selling my film as well. I know I could have made a lot more money with it. You know what I mean? But But listen, it's a life lesson. But you know what? System two is you can get into the traditional system. and just make wages, you can go and get your directors fee and whatever. You know, that's the other thing too about being a director is that the director is probably the you're not going to get paid much as a director. You know, I've got a friend of mine that's finishing a movie now for for Netflix. And he worked out because he ended up you know, hanging out with the makeup artist and making out with her. He worked out that per hour. Right? Her our, the amount of time he spent on the movie, compared to the amount of time she spent on the movie, she was making four times more than him because he got a contracted amount of X amount of dollars, you know, 100 grand, she came in just for, you know, the four weeks to suit this thing or five weeks, she was making more money per hour than him. So really, as a director, a movie director, you get jack shit, unless you're going to be like, a fucking famous Marvel director, maybe you know, after your second or third Marvel film, you might be making some good day. But the reality is even a lot of the offers I've been getting, I'll go fuck massive pay cut, you know, I can make what they offer. I can make doing an add in,
Alex Ferrari 1:31:15
Or stock trading week, or two or three weeks.
Mark Toia 1:31:19
You're literally paying me if you want me for a year in a bit, and you're gonna pay me a month's income like it directly at work. directing a movie is not really that What are you thinking?
Alex Ferrari 1:31:34
Right, exactly. And by the way, your story is could have been a cautionary tale very easily you could have if you didn't know marketing, if you didn't know Facebook ads and YouTube ads. If you didn't make your money in T VOD, and just try to throw it on a VOD or let's say you just want to throw it on Amazon Prime and left it there. You you might have been able to make some money with it. But it wouldn't. It this story could have gone wrong in multiple places, multiple.
Mark Toia 1:32:03
But I didn't want it to fail. And if it was going to fail, I wanted to fail with my own hands. I didn't want it to fail on someone else's hands. Because then I would have kicked myself stupid for allowing myself right to let it fail with no because if I'm if I'm going to put no effort into selling that film, I get some years sitting back down. Are they going to do everything for me? Because they told me they're going to do $2,000 in marketing for the PR and they told me they're going to spend six grand here and, and and the movies gonna blow up. Right? Right. I knew that was bullshit. Because I'm in the advertising world. I know that's complete other shit. I mean, like, six grand, don't get you shit. Nothing. Nothing. And online news. You know, when you hit the PR companies and they put stuff on all those fucking Oh, the PR web things? Yeah, yeah, no, talking, no one reads that crap. Come on. No one in how do you how do you even justify monetizing it? You know, it might end up in variety. And it's like poof, gone. It's like, got you know, it's,
Alex Ferrari 1:33:09
I hope this conversation inspires and scares the shit out of people at the exact same time because it is definitely an anomaly. It is a cautionary tale. It's an inspirational tale. And this is the reality of where we are in the world right now. And where we are going as filmmakers. That's why I wrote the book. So we have a fighting chance. Because in the book, you read it, you know, you've got to execute things in order for it to work and you've got to do a lot of work. That's not the filmmaking part of it. It's not the working with actors and getting in the edit room and go into the premieres. That's another part. But in today's world, filmmakers need to do the next part if they want to survive as filmmakers. That's just unfortunate. I don't I don't make the rules. These are the rules. And unfortunately, this is where we're going. Mark, I do want to appreciate your time. Brother, thank you so much for coming on the show again, and being so candid and open with us. And I hope this does help some filmmakers out there. So thank you again, my friend and continued success and let you keep me updated on where you are in the world and what you're doing.
Mark Toia 1:34:11
No worries, Alex, have a good day. It's always good to talk to you mate.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
Please subscribe and leave a rating or review by going to BPS Podcast
Want to advertise on this show? Visit Bulletproofscreenwriting.tv/Sponsors