BPS 078: Screenwriting & Hollywood in the Times of COVID with Greg Gertmenian

Today on the show we have Greg Gertmenian, who is the Head of Script Analytics and Film Development at Slated. He is also the co-inventor of the Script Score, the only screenplay evaluation tool proven to accurately predict good films. Helped arrange financing of films like SUPER TROOPERS 2, DEEP MURDER, CRUISE, AT FIRST LIGHT, GOD BLESS THE BROKEN ROAD, BECOMING and WHAT BREAKS THE ICE.

Prior to his time at Slated, produced short format content including the fan-beloved short film, BALROG: BEHIND THE GLORY and the award-winning, AFI Fest film THE HAIRCUT.

I wanted to bring Greg on the show to discuss Hollywood, screenwriters and the COVID pandemic, and what we all can do to survive and thrive during these crazy and uncertain times. Enjoy my conversation with Greg Gertmenian.

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Alex Ferrari 0:01
I like to welcome the show Greg Gertmenian. How you doing my friend?

Greg Gertmenian 3:39
Good, man. How are you? Good. Good.

Alex Ferrari 3:41
Thanks for having thanks for having me on the show. Thank you for you being on the show. I appreciate you coming on and talking all things about the film industry in this crazy time that we're living in right now.

Greg Gertmenian 3:54
Indeed, yeah, it's my pleasure. Thanks for having me. There's lots to talk about.

Alex Ferrari 3:57
Yeah, absolutely. So before we get started, how did you get into the business in the first place?

Greg Gertmenian 4:03
Oh, that's a good question. So. So I did. Bill films, I focused on film and comedy in school when I was in college at USC. And I wasn't a film major, but all my friends were. And so that got me into the business of sketch comedy, directing sketch, comedy writing and performing and doing some stand up. And shortly after, you know, graduating, you realize, no one's gonna make it and invite you, you got to make it yourself. So that started me on the path of making stuff. And I had some success with some short films out of school and then joined my brother's management company, which he started for for new feature screenwriters. And so I sort of cut my teeth at his shingle helping him, discover writers and sign them and then send them out and get options and writing assignments and sales and And that company was sort of the basis for the company that we would later found in 2012 called spec Scout, which was sort of the the path the career path that I'm on today with, you know, discovering new writers the script score and and the underlying technology. They're

Alex Ferrari 5:19
great and then you work now for slated or work with slated?

Greg Gertmenian 5:22
Indeed, yeah. Yeah. Erica, so

Alex Ferrari 5:24
we'll get into slated in a little bit. That's one of the reasons why I want to have you on the show because I'm really curious about slated and what they do, but because of your work with slate and and with set and specs spec Scout, before then, I mean, you have your ear to the grindstone, pretty much about the industry. So you're reading the trades, and you're talking to people, and you have a lot of information that many of us outside of the industry might not have, because you just have access. Obviously COVID has thrown the largest monkey wrench I've ever seen in the history of the industry, which is a fairly large statement to say, I've been in the business for 25 plus years. In my time, I've never seen anything and just being a student of history of our industry. I just never seen anything like this. What I mean, what are you hearing? Like, I mean, obviously, every day, you know, as of this recording, we don't know what's happening right now, as we're recording, we're, quote unquote, opening up as the cases are flying up around the country. And even here in Los Angeles. Nobody knows what's going to happen in a month, in a week. So what are you hearing from executives from finance ears, from distributors from talent? You know, what's, what's the word?

Greg Gertmenian 6:42
Yeah, I think everyone is generally pretty eager to set dates. In the near future, when stuff is going to hopefully resume and get back to normal. I'm much less optimistic than that. Just because we have, you know, so many countries that are ahead of us in the curve. And we've seen that they've opened back up and then had to pull back. So you know, generally we're seeing I think there was an announcement today that movie theaters in Los Angeles in New York are expecting to open back up in mid July. And,

Alex Ferrari 7:16
and I don't I'm not optimistic.

Greg Gertmenian 7:19
Yeah, I think so. I think that, you know, I've spoken to because that's slated, we we work, you know, we're working on 60 films at any given time, and all of them have different production schedules. And they're all trying to make their day, right. So I've heard different filmmakers approach this differently. But I think that the conventional wisdom right now is that we're going to open back up for a little period of time, during which production is going to follow pretty strict guidelines to try to keep sets small to try to keep people in the respective corners of the set during the respective duties. The unions have signed off on certain protocols with regard to that sort of limited COVID mitigated production. But then we know like every other country, that there's probably going to be a resurgence. And from from what I'm hearing, I think the resurgence is expected to be a few months later, maybe perhaps sometime in November or September. And that's obviously not a tested statement. But as far as you know, whispers through the grapevine, I think the senses we're going to get we're going to get in the game for a few months, people are going to try to do their COVID, safe, friendly productions. You know, we certainly have some films that are more contained, that have, you know, could be made with tiny crews that are planning to shoot in that frame of time. And then if and when stuff starts to hit the fan again, then we'll you know, we'll have to pull back and adjust accordingly. But I know that there are some universities out there who are planning to go back just in session on schedule in August and try to rap a little early before the the the resurgence of COVID happen. So I don't know if we're following their lead or what but I think filmmakers are eager to get done what they can while they can. Give me my I'll be back on ice in a period of a few more months. Yeah, I

Alex Ferrari 9:13
mean, I'm even less optimistic than that. I think right now just looking at the numbers and what people are talking about there. You know, it's in a 50% capacity already in LA with ICU beds. And it's growing every day because of the because of the protesting. Because of all that stuff that we didn't that wasn't even a part of the crazy that we have to deal with in 2020. And now all of a sudden, we have that thrown in. So that's a complete new monkey wrench in this normal, somewhat normal, a normal timeline that you even talking about. So um, I don't see theaters opening up in July. I just don't and if I do how, like, if tenant opens up Nolan's tenant opens up July 15. Well, yes, there'll be a handful of people Go out, is it gonna have $150 million opening? I doubt it. I don't think there's enough theaters nor enough people who are willing to go to the theater to go see it. It's unfortunate because I want to see that movie in the theater. I want to see it in IMAX. But how? I, it's such a strange world. Like I'm trying to think like, how, like, we have no blockbuster summer. This is the first since 70, whatever. 75 when jaws came out, this is the first non blockbuster summer. That's right.

Greg Gertmenian 10:29
It is. Yeah. And who who among those filmmakers want to be the first guinea pigs to try out opening in a theater that can only be filled to have capacity or whatever?

Alex Ferrari 10:39
If you're lucky. Yeah, if you're lucky. And then also like, wouldn't it be interesting, like, let's say tenant does open up, and, and it has $100 million opening, a lot of people go see it, then all of a sudden Two weeks later, the tenant wave comes in from people to contract it contracting it from I mean, it's it happened in Memorial Day. So now we're feeling that what happened on Memorial Day, two weeks later, will sir, the revealing the after effects of that, and all this other stuff. So it's it's just, it's fascinating to see. And what we're hearing in the industry in general, what, what opportunities you see for filmmakers and screenwriters post COVID because I think the industry is going to change irreparably, it will never go back to where it was, I don't think sets are going to go back to the way they were any, even in the next two, three years. I think it's gonna it's like certain things are going to just change. Do we would you agree?

Greg Gertmenian 11:36
I'm hearing a lot of that, and I haven't accepted it in my heart. But, but it's it stands to reason I think that makes sense.

Alex Ferrari 11:46
So what are the opportunities for filmmakers and screenwriters in this new post world, and this, you know, opportunities that are presenting themselves now that there might be that I always tell people that there are doors that are opening that would have been closed before? Because of COVID. So COVID is closing other doors that Normally we'd never had access to, but might be opening other opportunities up? Which like any crisis does?

Greg Gertmenian 12:10
Yeah. Well, you know, in the first place, there was an incredible shortage of, of new content, right. So what we saw first, we saw in the first three weeks of this, and it were going on over three months now, which is hard to believe. But in the first few weeks, we saw people go a little bit quiet as they were bracing themselves to figure out like what was the size and scope of this thing. And then at least on our side, because being you know, being an online platform, we deal with people all over the world. And so on our side, we saw business start to resume normally, or projects have been getting a lot of interest. We've been getting offers on projects, we didn't see money fallout of projects, we didn't see distribute distribution, fallout of projects, things seemed normal. And then they seemed almost to increase in intensity, that demand for good projects increased as streamers, distributors, buyers realized, we're not going to be getting any new content for a while. So there was a period of time and I think we're still in it, where if you had a completely film, if you have a film and post, you're, you're you're in demand more than you would have been prior to COVID. And we're definitely seeing some films that are in post that are getting pretty great offers, I don't know would have been as rich before COVID happened. So that's sort of the first opportunity. I think if you're a filmmaker with a film in post, you're you're sitting pretty. Aside from that, I think that people are definitely rethinking how they film things. I think that contained sort of sub genre of stuff is interesting for a whole different reason. And Necessity is the mother of invention. In this case, I think you know, you don't necessarily it doesn't necessarily have to be contained thriller, someone trying to get out of freezer or what have you. You know, there's a lot of we've seen a lot of very interesting sort of high concept stuff that takes place in small space. And if you can do that and make it feel organic, then that can end up being a pretty cool movie. So I think I think figuring out how to shoot those tiny skeleton crew films is an opportunity. I've already seen movies, there'll be movie selling, it can just next week, that are you know, COVID romances, quarantine romances, films that start entirely, you know, on their computer screen over Skype and and through other screen technology. So no, maybe that'll give rise to some of that. I I hear that I hear the groan in response to hyper, you know, hyper topical, you know, it's

Alex Ferrari 14:40
just like, the last thing I want to see is a movie about what I'm dealing with 24 seven I want to escape. So I get sent. I get sent. I mean, do you have any quarantine shorts? I've been sent like, Oh my god, they're just being sent to me left and right because filmmakers You know, think that they're the cool, we're gonna we're gonna be this is the thing that's gonna blow me up. This is the thing that's gonna get me I'm gonna do this. Nobody else in the world is gonna do a quarantine short, because everyone else has stopped shooting. So they're just trying to figure that out and then I get I'm like, Guys, I don't want to watch a shirt about. I just turned on the news and I'm just

Greg Gertmenian 15:18
already too much,

Alex Ferrari 15:21
it's too much. So I'm really curious about this kind of sub, the sub genre, which I think it's going to become a sub genre of filmmaking, which is this kind of quarantine thing. It might be short lived, it might be a short lived movement, maybe a you know, one of these more established filmmakers might go down that would like I would love to see like a Michael Mann quarantine film, or, or Dave or David Fincher quarantine film like that would be very interesting. in hands of masters like that, to see what that genre Yeah, precisely

Greg Gertmenian 15:54
in the hands of masters and non opportunists, for sure. But yeah, I mean, as far as the appetite of buyers, studios, distributors and investors, they're all still looking for the same stuff they were looking for, in my in my from my, from where I said, Okay, still want, you know, cool concepts, they still want visual stories. They still want diverse stories. And so I don't know that we should be changing up our whole game plan. It's more just a matter of, you know, trying to figure out how we can accomplish those same objectives in these circumstances. And if not, then how can we be ready to knock it out of the park, the moment that we are able to go back to work, and I think, you know, one of the unfortunate things is that when it's over, it won't really be over. Because not only will there be production restrictions, but there's going to be a mad dash for all of those tax credits, all of those crews and all of those regions. And it's, you know, I can only imagine how difficult it's going to be to fight for space. As everyone is trying to schedule all of that delayed production,

Alex Ferrari 16:57
it's going to be a mess, it's going to be a mad rush, because there's a limited amount of states that have tax rebates or countries that have tax rebates, and crew, and everyone's just sitting on the sidelines. And like everyone's so everyone wants to play ball at the same time.

Greg Gertmenian 17:11
And talent. Yeah, exactly, exactly. It's like if you're making an offer to an actor right now, they can presume they may be free. But But what happens when the studios make those same demands and production opens back up? Where are they going to prioritize? So? Yeah, it'll be interesting to see.

Alex Ferrari 17:28
It's such a mess. Yeah, it is such a mess. It's, it's, it's very interesting to just sit in the sidelines, and kind of watch what's going on. Because it's like, every day you really don't know. And you just mentioned the Cannes Film market, and the festival. That's different. That's like not it's happening. But it's virtually happening. So I have, you know, I have a bunch of distributor friends of mine who are at the virtual, and with a virtual booth. And I'm dying to hear how that goes. What are you hearing about this? I mean, and I think it's way overdue. Let's just put that in. I think the virtual film market is way overdue. But it needed something like this, it was probably going to take another five to 10 years before can or AFM decided to do something like this. But now they're forced to. So what what are you hearing about that?

Greg Gertmenian 18:21
So I think, on the whole people are generally sort of excited about it. They're there they are, you know, cannas put a put a lot of effort into trying to recreate the experience of the of the physical market as much as they possibly can. And I think everybody really appreciates that really commend them for that. And for the most part, we've seen sales companies that are just looking to proceed with businesses normal, they are building up their slates right now they're grabbing up their final acquisitions, so that they can announce what films are going to be selling. And they're booking the calendar of virtual screenings and virtual meetings, and I have heard some relief and appreciation expressed on the part of some sales companies to say, you know, it's better in a couple of ways. One, you know, I'm not going to get ambushed by somebody just walking into my booth that didn't have an appointment and doesn't have, you know, can't buy a film can't can't buy a film in a given territory. They have more control over their schedule and can be more efficient that way. But number two, also, when they do a screening, yes, it's virtual. But they have the ability to book that sort of virtual theater beyond what that small physical physical screening room can can accommodate. So you could potentially have you know, hundreds of people tuning in for a really exciting screening virtually that would not have been able to to make that same time at the physical market. So there are upsides

Alex Ferrari 19:43
Oh, there's a lot of upsides and have a cost out of the fly that I mean, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind going to Cannes Right. I mean it that's one of the nice things about it. It's you know, you go to Ken but but for a lot of these distributors and sales agents and buyers, it's just like it's it's an it's not cheap.

Greg Gertmenian 20:00
Right. Yeah, it's not it's not cheap. And if you're not prepared to turn it into a vacation, then you end up just sort of running around. not appreciating what. The scene around you

Alex Ferrari 20:11
the south of France. Yes,

Greg Gertmenian 20:13
exactly. So, yeah, so I think there's definitely some upsides. And I'm hopeful that the films that we have at the market this year are gonna are going to do to do well, because at the end of the day, the buyers still need content and new content, the levels of new content are getting lower and lower.

Alex Ferrari 20:32
So I heard I heard from through the grapevine that Netflix, because everyone, that's kind of like the the gold standard in streaming at this point, that Netflix, I heard from multiple sources, that they're like, oh, Netflix is we're not and they're just they don't buy anything, because they're buying this and that and I heard two different two different things from about Netflix one, the studio's when this, they happen, they unloaded a ton of content on the movies at a discount, because they needed revenue, because movies stopped like, like a lot of you know, if you don't have Disney plus, or if you don't have HBO Max, the revenue started to slow down. So they started dumping a lot of product on and I started seeing, like, Paramount movies and other big studio movies from like, 1015 years ago on there. So that was one thing. And second, I heard that Netflix basically had enough in the in the pipeline to last for two and a half, three years comfortably without having to buy another piece of content. So what do you hear? I'd love to hear what you're hearing about that and just in the streaming ecosystem in general.

Greg Gertmenian 21:42
As far as insight into Netflix, I don't I don't have any more insight than that. I think all of that makes sense. Generally, they are a company that has telegraphed to the world. Like, look, we we got this.

Alex Ferrari 21:53
We're good. We're,

Greg Gertmenian 21:54
we're doing fine.

Alex Ferrari 21:55
Tiger King is coming, don't worry.

Greg Gertmenian 21:59
That's right. And so that wouldn't surprise me that and I think I mean, just from a consumer standpoint, right? We're all sitting at home, dipping into those television shows and titles that we've been meaning to watch for a long time. I'm not at the bottom of my list. Oh, right. So you know, if that's any indication, then Netflix must be telling the truth. And yet, I think the shiny new titles, with 2020 dates on them are exciting for people. And I also know, and as I'm sure you know, you've seen this as well, that the the number of entrants in the streaming platform space is not decreasing, there are more people that are looking to do, you know, sports centric content, streaming platforms, and comedy centric content, streaming platforms, and all of those platforms still need content. So you know, there's more places than ever to sell stuff to. And if you're a buyer right now, or a distributor right now, you have to be aggressively looking, because not everybody can be Netflix. And it's and so and not everybody can buy studio content at a discount can afford that. So? Yeah, so I think if if there is a net effect of this, even though filmmakers are a little, they're restricted with regard to what they can do right now, I do you think that that it has become much more of a seller's market? Because because of the dearth of of new content?

Alex Ferrari 23:25
Now with packaging of films? How do you? How can an indie filmmaker package of film in today's world, like there was a set way to do it in, you know, January? Now? What are financers? looking for? How do you package it? Do you have any tips on you know, filmmakers trying to get projects off the ground now and scripts off the ground with, you know, attached talent in one way, shape, or form?

Greg Gertmenian 23:55
Yeah, so packaging and I have really appreciated the conversations that you've had on your show about how to approach sales and packaging from an independent film standpoint. I think that that is one thing that independent filmmakers overlook quite often they have a sense of indie film as being this very early model of, you know, Kevin Smith, can I be your friend? Yeah. Right. Right. And, and that is just isn't the case anymore. it you know, in today's market, you really need to build some value for your budget. That's not to say that if you you know, film A, if you make a film on a $25,000 budget, and no one's in it, and your execution is superlative, that you can't find a home for it, but generally speaking, you know, you're going to need to be thinking about what recognizable faces you can put in your film. And that directly impacts how much money you get to make your film to the extent that you're, you're trying to ask other people for investment. So I've appreciated you sort of foregrounding that conversation. Thank you on this show. Because that's, that's, that's one of the things that, you know, when we have 1000s of filmmakers coming to us to the extent they understand that it makes the whole rest of the process a lot easier, and it makes those films a lot easier to help. So I think, you know, first and foremost, I think it's, it's critical to just understand building value for the price of your film for the price of your budget. And, and, you know, I've seen people be successful at it all different kinds of ways. You know, obviously, if you have a personal connection to, to a star who trusts you, that's great. If you have a track record, that makes people feel at ease, even better, that's the best, arguably the best way to go about it. And, you know, we've also seen people to great effect use casting directors if the script is very compelling. If you're a director with a short or a pass film, who's proven that you can really create a good product, then having a reputable casting director send your script out to targeted talent can go a long way. And so those are the ways that we've seen film sort of self packaged up without the aid of a big agency. And then of course, if you you can be an indie film who works with CAA or UTA, or w Emmy. And if they rep you, and they really believe in the project, then of course, they can unleash a whole roster of really valuable talent who can take your film to the next level? So there are many different ways to do it, of course, what you just sort of have to look at, what is your network? What do you have at your disposal? How strong is the script? What's your track record? And then try to calculate, you know, what the best approach would be?

Alex Ferrari 26:40
How do you get one of the three big talent agencies to really like, look at your script, look at your package, look at yourself as a filmmaker and or screenwriter, producer, however, what what are some tips to kind of get in because that means everybody is trying to get to CAA or Wi Fi? And you know, it's kind of like, Oh, well, I'm wrapped by and I've heard that term. So many times. I'm like, Oh, my film is wrapped over at CAA. I'm like, and it's been in development for 10 years, it means nothing. But But if you put if you're serious, and you get momentum, and you actually get in there, how do you do that?

Greg Gertmenian 27:17
Yeah, so I think what I think in those cases, the films are trying to convey that the that that one of the agencies has agreed to sell domestic for them in the event that there's anything to sell, which isn't totally meaning last, but it's not actionable right now. Right?

Alex Ferrari 27:36
Well, no like that. I understand. But what I was referring to is like, I've heard filmmakers, because as you know, filmmakers sometimes stretch the truth not often sometimes stretch the truth when it comes to their projects. Not often, not often, it's very rare when that happens, but when they do stretch it, they're like, Oh, yeah, my film, this project is repped by CAA. So or is wrapped by W me. So yeah, so let's say, let's say 50% of the time, that's real. And then when it is real, is generally like what you're talking about, or that they have, they rep the director, and now they're taking on the whole project. So now they're gonna package the whole film with their talent in there. And that's that's generally the way it is. But sometimes it's, it's a stretch. So how do you if you're not repped by these companies? How would you approach a CAA? Do you come in with financing? Do you come in with maybe attached talent? Or I mean, because I mean, if you just show up with a script, and a dream, it's the lottery ticket at that point, if I'm not mistaken, if with no preparation, right, yeah,

Greg Gertmenian 28:38
I think nobody really wants to read a script.

Alex Ferrari 28:42
Shocking in Hollywood, that nobody wants to read it.

Greg Gertmenian 28:46
They all have so many scripts to read and your scripts not, you know, even if your script is incredible, and I'm sure you had this, you know, you people have sent you scripts, and you're like, this is one of the better scripts I've read this year. And it's still impossible to get anybody to care. You know, I really think that one of the sort of secret weapons that that filmmakers can use, if you want to be, you know, if you want to be making features at a high level, you kind of have to put your money where your mouth is and do a proof of concept or a short. That proves that you are an exceptionally talented director or producer. less true for writers, I think, unfortunately, writers in the position that they're they, you know, a short is not necessarily the best representation of their work. So they have to just write incredible specs that get you on page one. But if your director or producer, you know, I, I don't understand the logic of hoping someone's going to give you $5 million for your first feature. But you haven't tried you know, if you haven't proven you can do it, right. And directors that really do put their money where their mouth is and they go out there and they book a you know, a location for three days or whatever and they they create an event credible, high concept genre short are proof of concept. Those people tend to get traction if the short is good, because it's so easy to send a short out and have somebody click on it if for no other reason, because we're curious to know if you really as good as you say you are. So as far as like batting average getting a good response from agents or from anyone who can help you, based on cold outreach, I think a killer proof of concept of short is is the best way to go,

Alex Ferrari 30:29
would you? And this is a little bit of a disheartening comment. But I've read some amazing, amazing scripts. It's like when you read them, you're just like, how is this not an Oscar winning thing? Like it's and I've read them multiple times, from not unknown screenwriters from very well known screenwriters who have major track records. And yet, they can't get financed, or they can't get a packaged. And it kind of dawned on me This is years ago, when I first came to this game, it's like, oh, it's not about how good it is, unfortunately, it's about a bunch of different things hitting at the right time. So the right script that attracts the right producer, or the right director, or the right talent in the scope of where we are in the Zeitgeist of Hollywood at that moment, that perfect storm is what propels a certain project off the ground where a year earlier wouldn't go or a year later, it wouldn't go Is that a fair statement?

Greg Gertmenian 31:29
Yeah, I think that there are so many movies like that that took 10 years to get made for a reason. You know, there are projects that have come to us years ago that had a different cast, and a different producer, right, and they weren't able to get off the ground. And I don't know that the script was as good as it was, you know, 20 drafts later, I can't say, but it took that project going through multiple permutations before it hit one that really conveyed value to the person reviewing it. So I think that part of it is just the process of you know, there's a there's a glut of content out there. And so to calibrate a film just right, so that it sounds exciting, it feels like the most exciting version of itself. Sometimes, unfortunately, that just takes time. And most of it does have to do with the team and the talent. So, you know, I think at least from you know, we have 2300 investor companies that we're servicing through, slated. And so we have a lot of experience, getting a sense of what they respond to what they don't, package projects are always more interesting. And I think that one of the reasons for that is not only can you run numbers on a package project and figure out like how safe your investment is, relatively speaking. But you can just envision what the film is a little more clearly, when you know who's going to be in it, and who's directing it, and who's producing it, it becomes less of a concept less of a sort of a theory, and more of an actual product.

Alex Ferrari 32:59
So it's kind of like less heavy lifting at that point. Because if you have a script, you've got to start lifting a lot, because you've got to then package it and do it and, and you've got to really put a lot of energy in it. But if someone brings you a package script, like here's the talent, here's the director, here's some finance, like, and that just sets everything, it sets you apart. And it's not the quality of the scripts that setting you apart. It's the whole package that's setting you apart. Is that fair?

Greg Gertmenian 33:26
Totally. And I think that that gets to that actually gets to a distinction that's really important, I think, between independent filmmakers and the studio system, which is that in the studio system, you can write an incredible set spec and sell it for three quarter of a million dollars, right? You know, and then in that case, someone's literally just giving you money for having gotten that far. In independent film, it does, it never works that way. Because the money is usually just the money, their GPS that can sometimes be active. But for the most part, they're going to look at your script and say, What am I writing a check for? And who am I writing it to? And yet, you know, there are still a lot of independent filmmakers that maybe also exist in the studio system, but want to make their own film. And they're hoping that there'll be an investor who comes along and writes them a check so that they can cast and make offers and hire people. But in independent film, it just doesn't work that way, they're really expecting, you know, the money is the capital is really expecting you to build it first. So that it becomes an investable product.

Alex Ferrari 34:27
But even within so then the studio system too. I mean, if you have a package, it helps if you have if you have talent, if you have even some financing, you know from outside sources. That helps as well correct?

Greg Gertmenian 34:41
Absolutely. Absolutely. And we saw that in TV too, you know, with this boom of serialized content, and I'm not a TV agent, so I can only speak to the conversations I've had with them. But what I started to observe is that whereas before you know you might be able to take out a really strong pilot And or a really strong pitch and sell shows more and more and more and more over the past five or six years, you're really having to take out the whole the whole package and pitch the whole package before someone will consider buying your show. So that space has gotten a lot more competitive and a lot more talent driven than it had been before. So you got to your point, Alex, I think, yes, the package matters also in the studio world, as well.

Alex Ferrari 35:25
And now and let's talk about TV and films, because I mean, studios in general, I mean, there has been a massive shift in the studio system. And I consider the studio system basically the top six or seven, you know, majors that are, you know, and then there's some outliers that work within that, you know, the mini majors, if you will, but the majors that have shifted their entire business model, to IP based reboots, you know, franchises, the, you know, the films of the 80s and 90s that they're rebooting wouldn't ever be made today. Like they're not making those films that can you imagine The Goonies being made in a studio system today like that, that wouldn't ever exist? Or Gremlins or any of these amazing 80s and 90s. Ghostbusters, can you imagine Ghostbusters, like as a as an original pitch now would be very interesting. So, you know, so I see that there is also a limited window as far as how many of these films are being produced a year. at the studio level, they're they're not making 30 movies is studios not making 30 movies a year, they're making 10 at the big at the Disney's what made what like 12 movies last year, either at the studio level. And then Warner's is probably around the age of 1012. Before they were making 30 or 40 movies a year. And they were a different budget ranges and everything. So there is a certain limit of funds and opportunity now in the studio, theatrical space. But the television and serialized space, it is wide open and there is so much more opportunity there. And also, now the straight to the made for TV movie market, if you will back if I should date myself, you know, the movie of the week kind of movies which are now direct to Netflix, you know, or direct to HBO match or originals or original Hulu films that are at a much lower budget. Where do you think screenwriters and filmmakers in general should be focusing their energy? Should they be going for that homerun hit of like, I'm going to do the next 50 million 100 million dollar movie? Or should I start trying to get into serialized works trying to get into these lower budget direct originals for Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Max Disney peacock and so on?

Greg Gertmenian 37:41
Yeah, that's a good question. I think that the streamers always want content that feels like it could have been theatrical. So I don't think writing that kind of content, big concepts, you know, high concept. I don't think that's going out of style anytime soon. And if you have and if you have a knack for it, I mean, I ultimately went, you know, a lot of our businesses talking to writers and I think so much of the ancillary screenwriter, industry, fixates on this idea of like writing something marketable. writing something that can sell. And while I think there is some, there is some wisdom to that, generally, my advice to writers is to, to figure out what kind of writer you are, what your brand is, you may want to write every genre, but what genre, you know, in which genres Do you really excel? And in which honors? Does your work feel really authentic? And is it really resonating with people? And if you figure out what that is for you, then you can sort of figure out how to do the slightly more commercial version of that, that maybe puts you in the conversation, you know, for us for sending us back out to studio buyers, etc. But But yeah, I don't know that. I think that's where you kind of have to start and see where that leads you. And some people find themselves in the position of writing, you know, they're really good buddies. And unfortunately, that's not you know, that's not a that's not a firebrand genre

Alex Ferrari 39:12
for what was I'm sorry, you broke up, what was that genre again?

Greg Gertmenian 39:16
Oh, and you know, indie drama knees is like,

Alex Ferrari 39:19
so much

Greg Gertmenian 39:20
is a tough one, it's, you might be really, really good at that. And yet, it's it's really tough without a hook to get anybody excited about that. So, but but you know, I think, you know, you have to figure out what your voice is as a writer, and then try to innovate within that space and figure out what the commercial version of that is.

Alex Ferrari 39:39
But did did they have a better shot at getting in a writers room getting into a series now is that I mean, I think there's just by the math, there's more opportunity, correct?

Greg Gertmenian 39:49
Yeah, I think so. Yeah, I think so. I mean, I don't I don't work as much on the TV side, but I but I definitely have had a lot of friends who are writers and who were you know, Coming out of school or coming out of an MFA programs that have gotten snapped up into some really great writers room rooms, and they're excelling because they were incredibly talented. But I think that, you know, writers rooms are really intent on diversifying right now, I think that's, that's critically important. And there's there's just so much so many more of them. And I've seen all kinds of opportunities open up for my friends who I think prior to that, you know, serialized streaming boom, maybe would have had would have had to wait a little longer before this first forsters opened,

Alex Ferrari 40:31
do you think that this, this mad Gold Rush that's been happening now, probably for the last five years or so in regards to content? So many streaming platforms are opening up so much cotton? I mean, this is I mean, people are buying, I think they bought southpark for $100 billion, or something like 100 million dollars and, and Simpsons, you know, and obviously, Fox was purchased by Disney and friends how much his friends kept $200 million, or something like that $250 million, or something like that. It's um, it's insane that, but they're buying content up just they're just absorbing as much content as they can into creating as much content. Do you feel that there's a bubble here, like I kind of, I kind of see a bubble forming because this is not sustainable. This pace, cannot sustain for 20 years. And our economy right now is definitely not in the greatest space. And I still feel that we're nowhere near the worst of where the economy will eventually drop to. So I know, we all want content, we all want to see this. But there's how many of these streaming services can actually survive? How much money is there? Like? What do you think I just, you know, I don't want to put you in a bed in the corner. But I'm just asking, like, what do you think? Do you think this is gonna end? Or is this gonna pop?

Greg Gertmenian 41:48
Yeah, you know, as long as we're making, you know, as long as I'm allowed to make grand predictions, that could be entirely

Alex Ferrari 41:54
Absolutely, absolutely. That's what we're here, sir. And yes,

Greg Gertmenian 41:58
that in fatica? Lee, yes, we're in a bubble. And no, I think I mean, yes, some extent, I do think we are in a little bit of a bubble, because I think of the phase of growth that we're in as an industry is one in which there's been a new, there's been a new medium, there's a new playing field, that's been, you know, that we're all planning on. And the streamers are just just glad they're battling for dominance right now. So they're spending wildly inflated numbers of amounts for properties that they know are going to draw the most eyes with, you know, under the threat that maybe not all of them will survive into the next phase of this growth. And I think I think that that that, unfortunately, that is a strategy that they have to pursue, because they may damn well, what's that took a beat. Right, right. And so yeah, so I think that the prices will naturally settle. As, as people realize that there's probably room for all of these streaming services, maybe one or two will get knocked off. But, you know, for the most part, I'm seeing people toggle between their Disney pluses and their hulu's and their Amazons and their Netflix's with no problem. So, so I think the prices will naturally settle after this initial sort of elbowing people out of the way. Phase, you know, resolves, but, you know, beyond that, I can't, I couldn't say, I mean,

Alex Ferrari 43:22
I looking at looking at history again, I mean, in the early 90s, there was this indie, the indie boom, where they were buying, I mean, and if you got into Sundance, you got a million dollar deal. It was just like, it was like they were split. And then it felt like almost every month there was a new Kevin Smith, john Singleton, Spike Lee, Robert Rodriguez, Richard Linklater, and superstar broke, there was just every month there almost seemed like this new, this new kind of Cinderella story. And and then the studio's all said, Wait a minute, there's money in Indies, let's all put up in the shingle. So there's Warner, independent and Paramount Vantage, and all this the fire search light. But then it's it popped. It popped towards the end of the decade, it started to pop in, and then it started to fizzle out. And I have a feeling that that's kind of at that's a smaller scale, because what's going on now is massive, comparatively? Right.

Greg Gertmenian 44:13
Right. Yeah, things will certainly settle. And it will be interesting. It will be interesting to see how the curation of content for all those streamers ends up arranging itself, I think, you know, in our company, that's, that's a big part of our business model, right is where we're aggregating independent filmmakers and their projects from all over the world. We're taking the best ones, and then we're helping them get package financing sold, the demand for content has has never been higher. So I think there's going to be more of a demand for companies production companies, you know, talented producers, but also companies like ours who filter out the great projects and can curate those for for the buyers so that they don't have to roll up their sleeves and get in the muck out there and sort through The unsolicited submissions in the film of the film world. So

Alex Ferrari 45:03
God does a lot of that.

Greg Gertmenian 45:07
Yeah. On a completed film level on a script level,

Alex Ferrari 45:12
do you remember the time where it was just like there was too many scripts? Then now there's too many feed finished films out there. Like there's literally finished films that never see the light of day ever. Like true. It's amazing. It's it's pretty remarkable.

Greg Gertmenian 45:28
Yeah. And I think that that's something that we also see quite a bit of is that filmmakers get into this state of paralysis after where they're working on post, you know, for months and months, and sometimes years at a time. And I think they're almost, you can get a little fear of failure, that if I finally say, it's done, and if I take it out, you know, maybe it won't sell or maybe it won't sell for the amount that I hoped. And yet, you know, what, they don't realize it, it sounds hyperbolic to say this. And yet, it's so so so true, is that, you know, as my partner, it's slated, Jay on the finance team always says from the minute that you wrap your film, the clock starts to tick on the value of your movie. And if you're not getting a cut, and if you're not getting in conversations with sales companies, and if you're not getting out to the market, ASAP, then your films value is going to start to die and your phone's gonna get less and less relevant. And in many cases, people just they miss one of the market cycles, they miss a couple of them, and then they're just out of the game entirely. or God forbid, if they don't, if they don't time it right. And say they have a submit to festival because that's what everybody wants to do first is submit to festivals. And then maybe you have a festival premiere, well, then that becomes effectively a release date of sorts, that becomes a date upon which

Alex Ferrari 46:44
now it's really,

Greg Gertmenian 46:46
and now you've accelerated that. So I think, yeah, absolutely. I mean, the piece of advice that I have for filmmakers who do have a film and post is to get a cut that you can share, and then start to think about who's going to sell the movie, whether that's a big agency who's handling domestic and, and maybe International, or whether that is a sales company that you really trust, think about who that partner is going to be before you start willy nilly submitting to festivals, because festivals simply do not have the bandwidth to look at every every submission that they get. So you can have a fantastic film, and they may never find out. And you know, not to throw slinging mud at any festival in particular, but it's simply a numbers problem. So you know, you're much likelier to get a festival premiere festival debut, if you have somebody submitting your film to them. Who has a reputation with that festival, whether that is producer. So yeah, yeah, or a producers rep or a sales company who does a lot of business or an agent, you know that that makes all the difference in the world. So that's my number one piece of advice, when filmmakers come to us with the film and post is like, don't just start submitting to festivals, get a sales strategy in place, get a partner, have that partner make the submissions, you're going to go much further trust me, and then that partner can can use the festival as part as part of an overall strategy to debut your film to the world. And then use the next market as sort of a launch a launch for your film and sales

Alex Ferrari 48:16
don't do which you sent as you brought up festivals, do you? I've been saying this for a while festivals don't have the power that they used to this is not 1992 anymore. There's a handful, that mean anything to the bottom line, we're talking about five, maybe six in the world that mean anything to the bottom line, from your experience working with distribution companies and buyers and you know, other than the look, it's super cool. We all want to get into Sundance, she's the pretty girl that we all want to get it you know, a date with. There's no doubt about that can south by Tribeca, Toronto, we all want to go there. And it's fun. It's a cultural event. It's red carpet and, and there could be some business to be done at those festivals. But generally speaking, it's first of all, it's not a guarantee anymore. Before it was a guaranteed like you, you get in Sundance, it's sold, someone's gonna buy it. But that doesn't mean anything anymore. What are your feelings about festivals as a general statement from the buyers perspective, distributions perspective? Do they really mean anything? I mean, I mean, it cooks Of course, Sundance on a certain kind of film makes all the sense in the world. But even then, it's still not as much as it used to be. I mean, am I wrong? please do let me What do you think?

Greg Gertmenian 49:34
I agree. No, I agree that it's not a guarantee anymore, for sure. I do still feel that the handful of festivals that you named Sundance south by Tribeca can, Toronto, they still do really matter as far as your ability to introduce your film to the world and jumpstart the sales process. So you know, I'm sure they're they're there and then there's another tier festivals below them that still help with sales, they still have some stage, but they may not be, you know, as, as fancy and shiny as those others, but I still think that they make an incredible impact on your ability to, to get the film sold and distributed.

Alex Ferrari 50:15
But there is only a handful, period. Like even even first and second tier, we're talking 2025 film festivals around the world. That really means a lot. And I feel that so many filmmakers lose so much time submitting to all of these.

Greg Gertmenian 50:31
Right? That is so true. That is so true. And then they you know, the film, The filmmakers, then try to use, you know, I'm gonna, I'm gonna accidentally name a real Film Festival by trying to come up with a fictional one.

Alex Ferrari 50:46
So I always I always use I always use Moose Jaw, the International Moose Jaw Film Festival. I don't think that's a real festival. But you could just use the or the Uptown downtown Film Festival. Sure. So the Uptown downtown festival Yes, that is

Greg Gertmenian 50:58
a perfect, perfect, I'm going to use this from now on people are gonna start to think it's real. It's gonna be a life of its own. Yeah, so that that, you know, there's there's 1000s of those. There's I feel like there's a new one every week. And the same thing goes for screenwriting competitions too. And I think maybe that is a misconception that that the that the belief is that if someone has validated your film, then it's more valuable. And yet if that somebody is a an unknown screenplay, competition or Film Festival, it actually does just damage and particularly if you got like third place in the in the Uptown downtown Film Festival, it's like you weren't even good enough for for uptown downtown.

Alex Ferrari 51:43
I want to talk to that guy. I want to talk to that gal. Whoever shot that I want to I want to talk to whoever won uptown downtown. You've got grand jury and uptown downtown.

Greg Gertmenian 51:58
So you know, and of course I I can relate to having been on the creative side. The idea that somebody is saying, look, you did a good job that is that that's all people want to hear when they've finished making something. And like me, like you're still looking at it as a business. You have to be strategic about who you let put their laurels on your poster.

Alex Ferrari 52:18
No. Well, that sounded that sounded kind of dirty. I don't know why it's like you don't let someone else's laurels on your posts.

Greg Gertmenian 52:27
Doctoring COVID

Alex Ferrari 52:29
Absolutely not. Absolutely not. You need to you need to wipe that down with some alcohol. But um, but but so I suggest sometimes when I'm consulting with with filmmakers, I look at the film and I go, look, I think this film might have a chance. And even the might have a chance at any of the 25 film festivals. Sometimes they'll go, why don't you just put some feelers out at real distribution companies and real real buyers and see what happens. Because what's the what's the endgame here is the end game prestige, then go down the festival circuit, have fun, spend two years running the festival circuit. But understand that financially, that is not going to be good for your film. If you run it, I've seen festivals on I've seen films on the festival circuit for two years, just and they play 60 film features, right? And then at that point, I'm like, nobody, like I don't care if you have 60, laurels. Right? They're all uptown downtown. It doesn't matter. But your ego is very well inflated. After all of that, so right. What's the end game being honest?

Greg Gertmenian 53:40
Yeah, I think I think that that can potentially be an approach, you know, if you if you are a filmmaker with relationships at those distributors, then I think that that's well advised. If you're not, then I would encourage you to partner with a producer or sales company. Who does because we've seen cases where films have finished their film, festivals, maybe festivals, maybe they didn't. They then queried a bunch of buyers. And they got sort of de facto passes not because anyone actually ever looked at the film but because they said no go away unsolicited submission, we don't know you. And then that becomes difficult for a sales company that comes on board and tries to sell the film in earnest because right you have to navigate well, Was this an actual past? And anybody actually look at it? Of course, the answer is normally No. But in most cases, that becomes a conversation that you don't want to have to have. So I would say you know, sales companies for all the flack that they get for all the sales companies out there that may or may, you know may be more bottom feeding type companies predatory

Alex Ferrari 54:45
predatory is what I like to call

Greg Gertmenian 54:47
predatory perhaps. But there are still a lot of sales companies out there that they make a living selling movies and being transparent with filmmakers and reputations, and so I really do think that they can be That link that unlocks a distributor taking you seriously a festival taking you seriously. And and making sure that you're you're managing that process carefully and strategically.

Alex Ferrari 55:11
Do you think that from your experience, because I've spoken, spoken at nauseam about this, in regards to distribute the traditional distribution space where we're at right now, I've been yelling from the top of the top of the hill that Rome is burning, especially in the indie space. And that talking studio space, though I do, I do feel that those walls are starting to crumble a bit too, under its own way. But the traditional distribution model is kind of starting to fall apart. Because what was once cash cows are not no longer there. And they literally from month to month, year to year, don't know where their money is going to come from. Like before, it was pretty stable. Like, you know, you had VHS, were good with VHS. We had cable deals, we had pay TV, free TV, then DVD showed up and then just everybody was like The Great Gatsby when the money was flying everywhere. You could just release sniper seven. And it was already you already made 3 million bucks on DVD. But those days are all gone and streaming is not paying what DVD was. So I've and I've spoken to I've been at AFM. I've spoken to multiple distributors that I literally asked him I go, you really don't know where you're gonna get your money, are you and they're like no our main, our main strategy is to acquire as many films as we can, at no money upfront, for as long as we can keep them in our library. So then we can negotiate with a streaming service to sell the library off to them and see if we can make any money with them at all. T VOD is pretty much dying, if not dead. s VOD, is if you can get a deal. Great. And a VOD is where the money is currently. But it's still nowhere near DVD money. So that's at the lowest level of independent film, we're talking, you know, $10,000 movies up to even up to a million dollar to $2 million movies. But some of the movies I'm sure you're working on are at much higher levels, and that that's a whole other ecosystem. What is your feeling about the future of the model in general? And feel free to say, Alex, I take the fifth on this.

Greg Gertmenian 57:17
I'll take a partial fifth. I mean, everything you're saying rings true. I think that, uh, that packaging and bundling these titles together and selling them is definitely a line of business for sales companies. The mg has gone away. And in some ways, that is a good thing. Because, you know, of the whole fallacy that that the MSG was truly a minimum guarantee, which of course it isn't, it's usually a it's a

Alex Ferrari 57:43
maximum.

Greg Gertmenian 57:44
Right? It's a maximum guarantee that No, they didn't, they weren't clear about the asset. Exactly. So you know that and so I'm actually in favor of sales companies, not paying employees to acquire the content themselves, because then they really have to take the film out, and we get to see in a sales cycle or to how well they're able to actually sell sell the movie and their and their, you know, their ability to make money depends on that performance. So yeah, I don't miss the I don't miss the MG from sales companies, I think a no mg model is certainly Okay. And then they really just have to perform.

Alex Ferrari 58:22
If that's if they perform, if they can perform, sometimes even it's not even in their power, if they can or cannot depends on the marketplace.

Greg Gertmenian 58:31
It's, that's true. In their defense, that's true. And yet, I think a good sales company has really strong relationships with buyers, they know exactly what that buyer is looking for in advance at the market, or they at least have a sense of it. And they know what where their cash cows are. I mean, it's it's not a surprise, and I'm sure I know, you've talked about this as well, that there are certain genres that have more inherent sales value irrespective of cast. So you know, we can rely on that to some extent, if you have made an action film and executed it exceedingly well, then there will be some buyers for that. And cast helps a great deal. So So yeah, I think they you know, they don't have full control. But a good sales company is is is going to have a better sense of what they can do with a given film and hopefully get closer to hitting their numbers.

Alex Ferrari 59:21
Now in the in the world that we're living in right now. Something that I never thought would happen has happened, which is the international market has shut off basically, because of COVID. And then the Hollywood system, this is where I said that the weight of the system is kind of falling on against itself. When you make a 200 million plus dollar movie, which is the norm now. And then you spend another 200 or plus more to market it. That kind of movie without an international component can't sustain itself. You know, I mean, obviously the there's the marvels of the But can you make a $200 million movie without the international marketplace? In the way it is now? And I don't know, I'm not sure. In the next year or two, is that marketplace even going to, you know, within this next year or two? How much of that marketplace is even available to us? So can bond survive? Without international? Can Black Widow can wonder woman? Can they? I don't think their model is built on domestic only because now we're not the biggest market China. I think China is am I wrong? Is China is the biggest market? No. Are we still the biggest? I'm not sure we're close. I mean, but that's the other thing. China's China's shut down all their movie theaters when COVID hit so you're like, right, you know, Milan is sitting in limbo. So it's, you know, can the studio's systems business model work without an international component? And how does that adjust these events, style films that are basically the norm now in the studio system?

Greg Gertmenian 1:01:01
I don't see how it can I don't see how you can make a $200 million movie without the ability to sell it outside of the US. I don't see how that that's possible. But I but I don't think international markets are going away. I think they'll be there again, at some point. Right. But yeah, I think that isn't that product is built specifically at that budget level, because they're planning theatrical across the world. And then all of the, you know, all of the ancillary revenue streams that come downstream from that.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:33
Yeah, well, yeah. So so that brings a good point theatrical. We then be touched on theatrical in this conversation. I mean, theatrical is taking a pretty big hit right now. And I'm a fan of the movie theater. I love it. I want I if I could go everyday I would. I grew up in a generation as you did that we the movie theater, you're not a filmmaker, quote, unquote, unless your movies in the theater kind of thing. But this is really taken. I mean, the movie theaters industry has taken a hit not only here in the US, but around the world. And now that people are becoming more accustomed to staying at home and it's absorbing it, I'm sure people are going to want to come back out to the theaters. But are the numbers going to be back to where they were? How long will the numbers be able to get back to the work? And they were going in a downward trajectory? pre COVID. So again, that same question, does this model work without a theatrical component not only theatrically but internationally, but domestically? And because there's no way you're releasing a $200 million movie off a streaming? And I joke with trolls, trolls made 100 million bucks. Yeah, that's nice. That's great. Let's throw bond up there. Let's throw a Marvel movie up there. And let's get some real numbers to see. Are people going to spend $400 million? I think they can because mike tyson fights back in the day, they would gross three $400 million that they did. I mean, it is possible. And that was with cable VOD. You know, and what this is, all those big fights. I mean, they would gross three $400 million in a night. So it is possible. It was great, right? It's insane. That's why like, you know, what's his uncle who's like the greatest undefeated middle eight, kind of can't believe I can't remember the ball, small guy. He beat Pacquiao he beat everybody. So that guy, I can't believe the names forgetting me. people yelling at the podcast right now that gets him. It's him. Like, I'm sorry, please forgive me. But that guy would walk away with 100 million bucks for the night or Tyson back in the day, he would walk away with $100 million a night. But so it is possible. But what do you think? What do you think?

Greg Gertmenian 1:03:37
I think it's possible. I think it's going to continue and I think we'll start building budgets for the ideal scenario of $100 million troll screaming release as opposed to the ideal scenario of a billion dollar you know, global theatrical release. So you make the movie for 25 million instead of 100 million Well, that's you know, it seems we can figure that out especially with you know, technology continuously advancing the cost of CG is imagine getting more and more man and

Alex Ferrari 1:04:05
ultimate the Mandalorian with the with the with the technology that they deal with Amanda Laura. Volume, Oh, God, that I think is one of the futures of the industry to save us from COVID like, have a very condensed but yet a 12 hour sunset. It's insane.

Greg Gertmenian 1:04:23
Yeah, it is very cool. I saw that that promotional video and that behind the scenes video, and I think that's such a good point. I'm sure they're doing all kinds of marketing right now around that technology, because it's, it's those kinds of things that are gonna allow us to to make theatrical type experiences on smaller budgets. But the idea of a $200 million movie to begin with is hard to wrap your mind around. And that's

Alex Ferrari 1:04:49
on the lower end because he started looking at some of these bigger Marvel films that they pushed 300 million, you know that 233 50 you know, I mean, no one I don't even know what avatar back 10 years ago. cost, I can only imagine what it's costing. James Cameron with an open checkbook is very dangerous. But, you know, how does, you know? How does avatar work? Like, you know, coming out these next four is the fourth four avatars that he's making. It's, it's really interesting to see, it's it's gonna be a, it's gonna be a complete shift of the industry. I think you're right, you're gonna have to adjust budgets accordingly. And it's doable, like Mandalorian was much more affordable than it should have been.

Greg Gertmenian 1:05:32
Right, right.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:33
Yeah. It couldn't have been done without that technology.

Greg Gertmenian 1:05:37
I think so. Yeah. It looked fantastic. So hopefully we get to see some more of that.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:43
Now tell me tell me about slate. And we've been talking about slate a little bit here and there. So what is slated what how does it work? How do you help filmmakers and screenwriters? Tell me what you do?

Greg Gertmenian 1:05:52
Sure, yeah. So slate, it is a marketplace, or filmmakers to take the projects and develop them, package them, financed them, sell them get them distribution. So we have 50,000 members. It began as a as an invite only film finance network in 2012. So people had to be vouched for in order to join, all films were personally approved by our team before they could list and we had a small community of investors that had some some oversight in the beginning, which has become much more stringent now that it's an open network. But today, yeah, we're 50,000 members, I think something like 80% of our of Sundance movies last year were made by slated members, two thirds of Oscar nominated movies last year were made by slated members. And we've had films listed on the platform that including, you know, uncut gems or loving Vincent that were sort of living things and was nominated for an Oscar uncut gems should have been,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:53
should have won several Oscars. I mean, come on.

Greg Gertmenian 1:06:56
So So yeah, it's a you know, it is a it is a vibrant marketplace of filmmakers and fantastic projects that are coming from all over the world. And the platform itself serves to evaluate those projects, and then help them get linked up with wherever they whatever they need, based on where they are in their in their process. So that's what that's what our team does that P team that I'm part of,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:18
now the screenwriters submit their, their scripts there, how does that work?

Greg Gertmenian 1:07:22
Yes, yeah. So you can list your project, and not get any evaluation of your script or any financial projections. And then you can hope to match with a producer or a sales company, based on your logline and your poster and the value of you and your track record. That's a thing you can do. Generally speaking, we advise that people make use of the analytics that are available, the script score is critically important. And the financial analysis is also pretty important too. If you're hoping to attract, the investors that we discussed, are looking for projects that you know, have some have some demonstrable value, and, and some clarity there. So. So yeah, so you can list a project and have it not be scored. But what we advise is that you list your project, you submit your script to our team, you have our team review it, and then the analytics that we provide, you give you more of a presence on the site, more exposure on the site, and you're able to match with all those higher end investors, producers, sales companies who have said, Look, I only want to be messaged or matched with people whose projects had been reviewed and who scored above a certain threshold. So we use the analytics to enhance the matching.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:34
So but but you do work with treatments, or is only scripts or do work. It's like, here's the idea of I have this person attached to write the script, I have this director attached. I might even have some talent attached. Can you package a deal like that? And then maybe look for development funds, things like that?

Greg Gertmenian 1:08:50
Totally. Yeah, totally. So there, there's so there's three sort of key metrics, there's the team score. So if you list your film, you don't submit your script, you don't run financial projections, then there's just going to be a score based on who's making the film. So if you're a director, and you've made six, or you'll have a score, and people who are looking for projects with elevated teams will find you. If you choose to submit your screenplay, it should be a completed screenplay. Sure. We are taking completed scripts, we are taking completed movies, and we're going to start taking completed documentaries as well. And when I say completed, I mean a rough cut is fine picture lock cut is fine. And for for that process, it's it's always the same with every project. And we've done it for 10,000 projects to date, which is that we remove the cover page from the script, and we hand it to our development staff and we have three different members of our development staff read the script and respond to a set of questions independently stat returns us 100 point script score on a scale from one to 100. But it's really more on a scale from 60 to 90 because that's where most the scores fall And then that score indicates sort of how far in your development process you are, how close you are to being ready to being matched to a producer, or how close you are to being ready to effectively shoot. So if if the way our system is designed with three readers reviewing every project in one person gives it a recommend that the project will qualify for matching with with almost everybody on the on the platform, even if the other two readers are past,

Alex Ferrari 1:10:27
you know, is it work like so it's a market is kind of like, once you get past that's kind of like a marketplace. So then it goes up on the boards, let's say, and then everyone has access to seeing what that is. And then people contact the producers of that project or the owners of that project.

Greg Gertmenian 1:10:42
Yeah, more or less the the matching is, is really sophisticated in that it's focused on what you as a member, Alex have said you want to see. So if you told slated view your profile, I only want to see projects with script scores above 70. And or I only want to see projects who have an attachment that is x or higher, then those are the only projects are going to match with and every Monday morning you're going to get a digest that shows you the projects that you match with. And for any project that is a match to you, they'll now be allowed to message you because their project matches that criteria. So if at any point, an investor or producer wants to receive fewer matches, they can dial up the script score threshold, or they can dial up their team score threshold and get more targeted matches. Or they can say I only want stuff at this stage at the packaging stage or development stage or something

Alex Ferrari 1:11:33
like that. That's gonna bring it in. Right, very, very interesting. That's a pretty cool, pretty cool situation you got going on.

Greg Gertmenian 1:11:40
I man I love it. I really really love it. Because we you know that the global component of it is probably the most exciting because we have filmmakers that are submitting from Canada, from Egypt, from Mongolia, who have truly come up with these incredible stories, incredible screenplays. And, you know, you may or may not be surprised some of them have a very firm grip on how to build value how to package their movie for their territory. And so we're coming across films that I just never would have conceived up because because none of them are my experience. And but also films that I just never would have known existed that are beautiful, you know, sometimes heartbreaking stories, either at the script stage, or the post stage. So the idea that we can be a portal for those filmmakers and get them straight to the person that they need to be talking to in a matter of weeks or months. That is that is really exciting because the film industry at large is very scattered, very disorganized. You know, people depend on shows like yours to help them make sense of it all. And so we pride ourselves on being another one of those sort of spirit guides that can help assess you where you stand, figure out what you need and get you to the right place.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:51
That's like spirit guide. I think that's good. Hashtag spirit guide. That's very, very nice. Very cool, man. Very cool. All right, so I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker and or screenwriter wanting to break into the business today.

Greg Gertmenian 1:13:09
So first screenwriter Write, write, write, write, write, I think that competitions, if you're focusing on the top three or four are fantastic, you know, obviously, submit your script to slated and get it scored, you're going to get 20 pages of feedback and a script score from people who are working in the industry and have read 1000 scripts each. So that's really high value. And then I'm here to answer your questions about your coverage. So if you have a script, that's where I'd start, but there are also screenplay competitions, like the nickel like page, like the ones that roadmap writers or tracking board does. Those are all great companies. And I recommend that a new writer, try all of those avenues, it cannot hurt. If you get traction with any of them, it can be meaningful and allow you to take take your project to the next step. If you're a new filmmaker, yeah, then you should try to meet somebody who's more experienced than you and not hire people that are less experienced than you to help you pack the film, develop the film, and take that project to the next step. Also, list your plate we will help you

Alex Ferrari 1:14:06
and what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Greg Gertmenian 1:14:13
You ask this to all your guests

Alex Ferrari 1:14:14
every single one. That is the Oprah question. That's the Oprah question. Yeah.

Greg Gertmenian 1:14:21
It's it's the lesson that I learned longest.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:23
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the business or in life?

Greg Gertmenian 1:14:32
That is a tough one. It's hard not to get super existential on that. She's That's intense. I think I'm gonna try to keep it film related. Otherwise,

Alex Ferrari 1:14:42
we'll have a crying session. It'll be a thing. We don't get it there. I do therapy for free on the show all the time. It's fine.

Greg Gertmenian 1:14:50
Yeah. You know, I think I think that, you know, I think that the film industry can be a big scary place. And I think That when you think about agents or investors, you think of these sort of faceless people that are really intimidating and really cutthroat. And the fact is that there is a really healthy heart of the film industry independent or studio system that is here, because they love stories, and they're here for the right reason. So I think, you know, I think authenticity, of focusing on authenticity, and, you know, making stories that really resonate for you, and building around that, you know, not being blind to the business aspect of it. But you know, realizing that if you do make something that is incredibly powerful, or tells a story, that's true for a lot of people, and then you also build value, that there are going to be people who are passionate and excited about that. And yes, it may take time, but I think don't make it a foregone conclusion that everyone is cynical out there. Because I think there are a lot of companies out there that are looking to be part of something meaningful. And, and if you've, if you've created that, then you can be part of that, that dream for everyone.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:02
I you know, if I could tack on to that, because I found that, you know, doing my rounds in Hollywood so much as I've done the years. You know, yes, they're these these gods that we have on Mount Hollywood, you know, the Spielberg's and the Nolan's and these kind of guys, but at the end of the day, they're all human, everyone's human. everyone you meet is human yet some have more egos. Some are, are, you know, are acids, some are not, some are very sweet, some Americans, but they're human beings and you get all sorts, but I found honestly, once you break through that first layer, if you're a professional, and a providing value to the person you're talking to, they're going to reciprocate and they're going to be open to it. It's the what can you do for me? I want you to read my script. I want you to give me money like that energy, of course, you're gonna get you're gonna get like to just back off, right. Um, and the best advice I ever heard from, like, what's the best advice be in the film business? Don't be a dick. Right? Is that the best? Like the best advice ever?

Greg Gertmenian 1:17:03
Right, right. Yeah, I think people have this concept of the film industry is being really cutthroat and cynical, and then they try to adapt a version of themselves that can handle that. And I think that's the exact wrong way to go. I I think you described it. exactly correct. That just don't be a dick. And that there are there are nice people out there who, you know, if you have built something valuable, I'm interested to have a discussion.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:28
That's the key value if you can provide value in whatever way shape or form that's going to open the door much quicker than Pina Dijk. And now the toughest question of all three of your three of your favorite films of all time,

Greg Gertmenian 1:17:44
oh, no, my gosh, okay. Um, okay, recent film. So when I was a kid growing up, and I it's problematic for a number of reasons today, but I loved and people hate this film, but I loved Forrest Gump.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:57
I mean, I love Look, I love Forrest Gump. I think Forrest Gump is fantastic. If it's on a watch it do. I think that it should have beaten Pulp Fiction as the relevance of what it was that it like in the history of cinema. Yeah, but it was fantastic. Yeah, it's so much fun.

Greg Gertmenian 1:18:16
Or scub I love it's hard to choose the top films but in the past few years I've loved films like a loved room I think about room a lot for its structure and what it was able to accomplish with relatively little

Alex Ferrari 1:18:31
not the room not the room, but room not Tommy was so's ring.

Greg Gertmenian 1:18:35
I love them both. I think I think my top three are room, the room. And

Alex Ferrari 1:18:44
I think everyone, everyone who's listened to the show knows my affinity for the room and how genius of the film that is and how there's very few films that can transcend from so bad to Oh my god, I love it. I get to watch cats, though. I haven't heard that from cats are just here. It's just

Greg Gertmenian 1:19:07
yeah, or you can't be self aware when you're making the nothing. You can't. You must have zero self awareness that is the key to success in making the room

Alex Ferrari 1:19:18
quality you know, you can't like if you and I sat down like we're gonna make a room kind of film. It's done. It's dead from the beginning. You have to be completely don't

Greg Gertmenian 1:19:27
kill my dreams, Alex just

Alex Ferrari 1:19:28
like no, but if you have to be completely unaware of how ridiculous or right that is. It's exactly the room showgirls is another one. That's just remember so showgirls is a huge fan base, huge fan base for

Greg Gertmenian 1:19:44
desert Really?

Alex Ferrari 1:19:45
Oh my gosh, they just they're releasing a documentary on it right now of how it's transcended itself now, and you can watch showgirls, it's not the room it nothing's the room, because that's just a whole. I mean, that wasn't a you know, it's not Paul Verhoeven For God's sakes directing it, but you watch you watch, it's so beautifully bad. There's like, beautifully bad and then there's just masterpieces The room is a masterpiece of he uses the same stock footage three times, like,just watch it. But you can't watch. Do you ever watch the room alone? Don't do that. The room has to be watched with a group of people. That's the only way to properly enjoy the room. It's like Rocky Horror. You should not watch it alone.

Greg Gertmenian 1:20:27
That's a great.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:29
Yeah. Now where can people? Where can people find you and slated and the work you do?

Greg Gertmenian 1:20:36
You know, come visit [email protected] sign up. It takes two seconds, it's free. And then you can chat with us via our little chat bubble at the bottom right corner. There's a little orange dot click on that. And you'll be talking to one of us in no time at all. So wherever you are, we'll be able to help you get set up.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:51
Great. It has been an absolute pleasure having you on your show, man. Thank you for dropping all the knowledge bombs and the inside knowledge bombs on the industry today. So thanks, brother.

Greg Gertmenian 1:21:00
Oh, man, not at all. Yeah, really nice to chat with you, Alex. And I hope we get to chat against him.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:06
If we can learn one thing from this episode, it is that you shouldn't watch the room alone. It's just weird, guys. Just don't do it. I want to thank Greg for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs on the bulletproof screenwriting tribe. Thank you so much, Greg. If you want to get links to anything we talked about in this episode, as well as contact information for what he does at slated, head over to the show notes at bulletproofscreenwriting.tv/078. And guys, if you haven't already checked out the new indie film hustle Podcast Network, which is the home of some of the best screenwriting and filmmaking podcasts out there, head over to eye f h podcast network.com. And we have a ton of other podcasts that are not just my podcast, but also other podcasts and we're adding new awesome podcasts every month. So check it out. Thank you for listening, guys. As always, keep on writing no matter what. Stay safe, and I'll talk to you soon.


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BPS 074: The Screenwriter’s COVID-19 Survival Guide with Jason Mirch

With all the unknowns facing screenwriters due to world events I thought I’d bring on someone who had his ear to the grindstone of Hollywood to see what the town is thinking and doing during this crazy time. I reached out to Stage 32’s Jason Mirch, to talk about Hollywood and how to survive and thrive as a screenwriter during and post-COVID.

Jason Mirch is a feature film and television producer and executive with over 15 years of experience. Jason also serves as the Director of Script Services at Stage 32 where he works directly with screenwriters, filmmakers, and leading industry executives.

In addition to his work with Stage 32, Jason runs production and development for a company which produced low-budget genre pictures for an international audience, as well as serves as a business advisor to a successful post-production VFX company which contributed to The Peanut Butter Falcon, Crawl, Martin Scorsese’s Silence, Arctic, and Let them Talk for Steven Soderbergh and HBO.

Most recently, he produced a 3D animated feature film starring Jacob Tremblay, Emmy-winner Christopher Lloyd, Oscar-winner Mel Brooks, Emmy-winner Kenan Thompson, and Emmy-winner Carol Kane.

Mirch was the Head of Feature and Television Development at Image Nation, a finance and production company based in Abu Dhabi, UAE. There, he supervised the Image Nation contributions in the development of Flight, The Help, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Contagion, Careful What You Wish For, Ghost Rider 2, and 100 Foot Journey.​

Prior to his work at Image Nation, Mirch was Co-Head of Development at Storyline Entertainment (Oscar-winning Chicago, Footloose, The Bucket List) where he developed a slate of feature film projects for New Line, Paramount, Summit Ent., and CBS/Paramount. He also developed and sold television projects and mini-series to CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, and Lifetime.

If you want to know what is currently going on in Hollyweird and how to better position yourself as a screenwriter now and in a post-COVID-19 world then listen up.

Enjoy my conversation with Jason Mirch.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 1:53
I like to welcome the show Jason Mirch how're you doing my friend?

Jason Mirch 4:18
I'm doing well How you doing

Alex Ferrari 4:20
man? I am I am good sir. I am good. You are? You are you work with my brother from another mother? RB batoh over at stage 32. So I you know I talked to RB was like, Hey, you should come on the show of the screen because he hasn't been on my shows enough.

Jason Mirch 4:36
But we Yeah, what did you choose? The record was or for he's

Alex Ferrari 4:40
got I think we sat down and counted it. I thought 11 times between workshops that I record and him actually being a guest about 11 times total in the history of indie film hustle. And now he's been on film entrepreneur, which is my other podcast, but he's never been on this podcast specifically. I'm thinking, I've never recorded him for this podcast. So he said first you should come on and then he'll come on eventually to talk about things as well. So that's high. That's high. You know, it's a lot of pressure on you. So

Jason Mirch 5:11
I appreciate that. No, he's again, he's he's a fantastic guy. And of course, he would throw me out first. So he is

Alex Ferrari 5:19
and we were talking we talked about off air a little bit of like, how his RV hanging in there because I mean, he's always traveling. He's always running you know, doing something. He's like, Oh, I'm over in Cannes. Oh, I'm over in Berlin. I'm over here there. And I always in his Instagram is is, is honestly, for me the most infuriating Instagram feed ever. Because he's always having so much more fun than I am. Until I put him in the last episode he was on I was like, we have to start something called hashtag this fucking guy. Which has taken off surprisingly enough people have the tag give me a stack. I love this fucking guy. Hey, he just pisses himself.

Jason Mirch 6:00
Well, he's the guy. He's the kind of guy that can be at like three different events somehow at once. And you have no idea there's three of us do like he's all over the place. All

Alex Ferrari 6:08
there's three, there's three of him. And each of them has two livers. There's no question at least two or three livers each.

Jason Mirch 6:15
Right. Well, what if one is handled? RB walks into a bar. I know that the party

Alex Ferrari 6:21
he's on? He's on. On brand, sir.

Jason Mirch 6:24
Yeah, absolutely. No, no, your brand. No

Alex Ferrari 6:26
question. So um, so you've been in the business for a long time? How did you get into the business?

Jason Mirch 6:32
I so I went to school for writing and directing. Because a Chapman University down in Orange County, because like every young film school student, I wanted to be Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese. Or, you know, and you know, you you go through school and you you learn how to write screenplays, and you quickly realize that you're not those guys. You know, you're there's one Steven Spielberg and you're not it, dude. So, you know, you get out of school. And I think initially, like a lot of film, school students, you come out and you think, Alright, well, where's my overall deal? You know, like, I just walk on the lawn, and they're just going to give me shit.

Right? And that's the way it works. Yeah, right.

Right. And so one of the things I quickly realized is Film School teaches you how to make a film they'll teach you three point lighting and how to cut on an avid and all these things, but they don't tell you how to get a film made. And my first job out of the industry or out of out of college in the industry, was an Entertainment Tonight, the new show entertainer show, and you know, I like 20 to 23 year old kid at that point, and I'm, you know, helping an executive producer write the show, and it's fun, because you're, you know, I'm at the Emmys and the Oscars and I'm standing next to Brad Pitt at the Golden Globes and it's fun, and then you quickly realize that, you know, I'm like a, I'm like a high school kid at prom, but I met with the yearbook. You know, it was like, Yeah, you're at prom, but you're not at prom. You're taking photos, the kids that are actually at prom. And so I was like, alright, that's like this. This is not this is not what I want to be doing. This is not what I got into, you know. And so I went and found I went and worked at a management company that's no longer around anymore. They since merged, but it was evolution management, and evolutions big claim to fame, founded by Mark Bergen, Oren coulis was the saw franchise. And so I came in right at the end of writers after sod took off and became a phenomenon I came in right around the time sought to was in production. And so I was on the little bit side of their management company working for two managers. And so I've read every really good and really bad horror script under the sun. Right? Where it's like, you know, you you were you write somebody back, you're like, look, bro, we're not going to make this but you got to talk to somebody because you got issues with your parents, man, like, we can't make

Alex Ferrari 8:55
you should seek help. But you should seek Yes, seek

Jason Mirch 8:58
help talk to a professional. It's stop sending this around town. But you know, so I did that I was I was on the lead side. But and that was really truly the first exposure to the business, you know, where you learn buying and selling and and how projects get made and what, you know, what attachments you need to have I when I came in. And this is 2005 2006 Um, I came in a, you know, you could still sell a feature pitch in the room like that, like the player back in the day like a player. You could walk. I mean, you could walk in and sell a movie poster, and then that lucky and then but yeah, we'll write it later. You don't feel like they just write the check. But then it became okay, no, we need a a treatment or a script, you know, script meant, you know, would you like a half treatment, half script, hybrid? And then it was like, Okay, we need this and we need a filmmaker or we need this and a filmmaker and who's your piece of talent that's attached. And so I watched this evolution of business where studios started to get more and more You can call it conservative, you can call it risk averse, you know, more demanding whatever it is. And so I watched that that aspect of the business change. And then from there, I went and worked at a company called storyline entertainment, founded by the late, great Craig zadan. And Neil Marin, who produced Chicago, and we were doing hairspray in the bucket list and I came on. And that was very much in the sort of studio development model, you know, where your, your new line gives you a chunk of change and says, Okay, go put these stars in this movie. And I ran their development, their future in television development, you know, for for a couple years, and then moved into film finance and production and worked for a company called Image nation, Abu Dhabi, which was based in the Middle East. And so I spent five years in the Middle East, learning, don't finance, independent film finance production, we had international deals with companies based in the US Participant Media and Warner Brothers and parks McDonald, Hyde Park entertainment, the company through which was hired. And that was a really eye opening experience, because you're always learning, you know, yeah, studio give you $30 million. But when you've got to go raise money, what does that actually look like? And that was during the, you know, just as foreign pre sales started to kind of taper off in terms of really being able to finance your project. And then then, you know, again, after that, it was it was independently producing, I started to put together an animated film that I was asked to come on and produce. And then, you know, all throughout that I knew, you know, RB verse bato, and Amanda, Tony over stage 32, because I taught for them. And ultimately, you know, about a year and a half ago, a little over a year and a half ago, they said hey, would you want to come on full time and, and work with us to build out this, this division, you know, working with writers and I said, Absolutely, that's the kind that's right in my wheelhouse. So that's kind of a broad strokes. You know that what?

Alex Ferrari 12:06
Yeah, absolutely. And then in the world that we live in today, that's a probably good place to be right now. Because you you have work all the time.

Jason Mirch 12:13
Yeah. It's all online and I can do it from the comfort of my sweatpants if I need to the absolute

Alex Ferrari 12:19
absolutely in the in the bungalow that you have built out in your house. Exactly.

Jason Mirch 12:25
My old Hollywood bungalow, right. Look like this anymore, by the way. Yeah, they

Alex Ferrari 12:31
don't. I was on a bungalow the other day it in the back of universal and I mean, the bungalows themselves they do but inside it's not the exact right. But if you watch Hail Caesar, this is what a bungalow looks like.

Jason Mirch 12:43
Right. Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 12:46
So um, so there is obviously an elephant in the room that's called COVID. I wanted to have her you haven't heard about it.

Jason Mirch 12:53
Haven't heard. What is it?

Alex Ferrari 12:56
So so obviously COVID is is is affected our industry it was affected the world, but let's focus on our industry. It has affected our industry in ways that I don't think anyone ever saw anyone even conceived. If I would have told you in January that we were shutting down all movie theaters around the world. And by the way, there's not going to be a blockbuster summer. All of those movies are going to be pushed into the into the winter and God knows what the hell's gonna happen. In the fall in the winter, i, i There's only so many slots. And there's you know, I so there's that question. And the L by the way, the Oscars are going to be postponed for two months. Right. And there's no war, specifically going. Hey, no, that's not a World War that stopped this. All right. No, you would have said you're absolutely right that down because it might make a good story. Right. Yeah. It's It's insane. So, yeah, yeah. No, so tell me so what are you? I mean, you're pretty your ears pretty close to the grindstone when it comes to? What's going on in town? How are you seeing the town react? What are their plans? Because there's a lot of new, there's a lot of people in the news and a lot of things, you know, articles and, and reports of like, okay, so everyone's going back to back to work. And we're going to start shooting in July. And you know, we're going to start shooting in August for the new television season, or we're going to do everything at home. It's going to be all quarantine shows, and what are you hearing? I mean,

Jason Mirch 14:25
yeah, it's it's a lot of that. And I think, you know, again, before we jumped on here, you You and I were talking about this, there's, there's multiple groups of people, you know, people that do say, Okay, we're 100% coming back in July, and we're in prep, and it's, you know, it's just a matter of getting face masks, and we're on board and then there's people that are saying, like, Look, we're not coming back till next year, realistically, you know, and I think that there's, there's a desire to come back. I think that practically and functionally, nobody knows what that means. Right. So I was just I just saw that that, you know, NBC, a, you know greenlit Republic. Let's see 123 I'm sorry, five pilots in production, there's a daytime soap that wants to come back and start shooting in July. Of course, we all heard the Jurassic Park isn't be shooting in the UK. And by the way, they've had to add $5 million to their budget in order to be able to do that, which I think is interesting. Because if you're looking at sort of a scalable way, you're going to bring things back, you know, they're talking about yes, not just face masks and, and routine testing and, and medical staff on hand and all these things. Right. You know, that's, that's going to be at least for a while, something that filmmakers have to consider, right. So if you know, if you're doing 100 plus million dollar movie, and you've got a $5 million budget for that, what does it look like for an independent filmmaker who, you know, has to have some level of those things accounted for, you know,

Alex Ferrari 15:49
if you're doing a half a million dollar, a million dollar movie, you might have, you might need 50, extra grand 100 Extra, you might need a little extra cash, and

Jason Mirch 15:58
you need to find that that medical person, like what does that look like?

Alex Ferrari 16:01
There's not like a place you can go and get them all because they're not right. There. There is no, that is a brand new position that I think will be on for the foreseeable future.

Jason Mirch 16:11
Right. Absolutely. Absolutely. And so, you know, I think there again, there's a desire to come back, there's a desire to to return to normalcy. I think that practically speaking, nobody knows what it looks like. I think nobody knows what it actually physically looks like, in production every day. And, you know, having a Q tip stuck up your nose before you go to work, right? Or what it looks like, I was just talking to a writer today. And you know, I said, Imagine being a piece of like a piece of talent who's older, you know, you're talking about a guy who guy or girl who's in their 60s 70s 80s. Right? Those the most vulnerable, I think, because, you know, you know, we can talk about sort of, you know, the survival rate of COVID. And the fact that it's a 98.5% survival rate, depending on how old you are. But you start to getting in the the older generations that are filmmakers there. I mean there. I mean, some of these people have been forced into retirement because of this, because they're not going to be allowed to work on I mean, trying to ensure a production.

Alex Ferrari 17:18
Like how do you how do you ensure Marty? Mr. Scorsese? Yeah, on his next $200 million dollar Netflix film with Leonardo DiCaprio that they just signed? How do you ensure that in like, in that's never been an insurance line item? On on production insurance on? Like, what happens if someone gets COVID? And for whatever reason? They they don't they don't make it? Yeah, absolutely. And it was because specifically because of the production. So how do you protect against that insurance companies aren't jumping on board right now? Right. So I mean, then they have to sign waivers and it's like this whole thing. And now a sag is not allowing that. Right that Scott bale production, which I had no idea Scott bales there wasn't production. But um, that's, I'm sorry, I have no love loss for Mr. Bale, though. I did like Charles in Charge. Back in the day, and Chachi. But, um, but yeah, whole thing I cancelled the sex like, no, no, you can't have that. Do that. So that whole thing, and then having all the unions agree, because, you know, there's a historical precedence for all the unions agree on how production should be handled?

Jason Mirch 18:28
Right. Exactly. Well, and that's it. And, you know, it's interesting, because you're exactly right. And, you know, ultimately, it's gonna be the rules themselves, that they, you know, the document came out, and everybody's looking at it. I mean, it's just not, in my opinion, sustainable long term, because nothing can get done. I mean, just, you know, becomes cost prohibitive for especially smaller productions. Or it just becomes so overbearing, that feeling like I can't do this for what you're asking, you know, and that's, that's gonna be the real change.

Alex Ferrari 19:00
But so I've also mentioned this on on a couple of the other. My other shows is that, is there a model moving forward for these for a standard Studio project, which is, you know, a Marvel $200 million plus movie because that's standard. All the studios, as far as feature films are concerned, that is standard 150 to $250 million, because they don't, they don't go for singles, they stopped going for singles a long time ago. It's home run, or strikeout lights all the time. Is there a model financially that makes sense without a theatrical component, not only here in the US, but worldwide because worldwide audience or the worldwide box office is 70% or something like that of total revenue generated. So when this happened, China shut down. Their large market Europe shut down and they're still shut down in a lot of these areas. So is there moving forward? Does this financial model work anymore? Will we continue to have $250 million spectacles? If we can't go theatrically? Is is SVOD going to be able to pick up the weight? I don't know. Right? Charles was cool. It's $100 million. That's nice. And it was a unique film a huge set of times, but throw a Marvel throw Avengers up there. And let me know how that works out. Don't wonder what Wonder Woman or bond or any of the movies are sitting on the shelf right now?

Jason Mirch 20:26
Well, and that's exactly right. And it was interesting to see which you know, which film studios punted to later in the year, right? Top Gun Maverick for instance, or bond, right? Both got Wonder Woman, or, or trolls or the like, you know what, fuck it. Let's just see what happened. Or look at look at, you know, something like Hamilton, which was meant to be released throughout theater theatrically? Because I mean, that tickets still $1,000 A ticket to New York, at least it was at the time. And then they're like, alright, well, let's put it in theaters and get, you know, a couple 100 million dollars out of the rest of the world. And now it's, well, let's put it on Disney plus, and just see if we can pull in some of those those people who would watch it on on

Alex Ferrari 21:12
subscribers, subscribers, they're still they're still trying to get subscribers. I'm very excited about Hamilton, because I've never seen it. I've been dive I've listened to me, probably about 5000 times I've listened to that. Right? I could say yeah, beta. So I just saw the trailer came out the other day, I was just like, Ah, this is amazing. But look at that world, they spent 75 million on that, right. So like 75 million for that, for that purchase. for that for that for those rights, which is massive, massive purchase for a movie. I mean, is that a record, like a for purchase of a film

Jason Mirch 21:45
or something like that? It's a it's gotta be up there, man, I can't imagine. And that's and that's what's so interesting is to your point, I think there will ultimately be a singles and doubles model that comes back because of s VOD, VoD streaming those platforms because, you know, to your point about international sales, I mean, international sales used to finance and fun, so much of what I did on the on the independent feature side, which was, we've got a $14 million movie that needs to look like 35. It's got one big car chase, it's got to, you know, B plus A minus pieces of talent. We can do that movie for $40 million, we can presale 60 to 70% of it, and only put about a million dollars of real money into it. Now and again, and it will look good. We'll look theatrically, you know, theatrically released good now it'll, you know, we would put those into 10 cities, you know, and basically try to roll into a, a streaming. S VOD release. That's what I think it's gonna look like you're gonna have this, this gap that you can fill with a $20 million dollar movie maybe as long as there is some sort of output for it. That makes sense.

Alex Ferrari 23:04
Yeah. $20 million movie those days, Disney Plus, I'll be popping those out like candy all day, all day. Because I mean, even the Disney Channel movies that they did, which are not 20 million, but they were like, you know, four or 5 million all all day, there'll be popping those out. And that's what Netflix does. That's what used to be the movie of the week. And it's now become the Netflix, or Hallmark

Jason Mirch 23:26
or Hallmark lifetime. Well, and that's and that's the thing. I mean, you look I mean, if I would have told you again, let's go back to that scenario, where it's all pre COVID. If I was going to tell you that David Spade would have the number one film in America, and it wouldn't be seen in a single theater, you'd be like, What the hell are you talking about? But that's what it is. You know, it was that the Netflix film that that do that film? That was a Netflix film called the wrong it was like the wrong Missy or something like

Alex Ferrari 23:54
Yeah, I saw I didn't see I didn't see the movie. I saw a pass through my feet. So

Jason Mirch 23:58
that had according Netflix was the most downloaded film, right? I don't know. I can't remember their history or certainly their recent history.

Alex Ferrari 24:07
No, again, we'll be hitting a tiger King, obviously. No. I mean, come on. Let's get serious. No, no, we'll probably like weekly probably are like the week or the month or something.

Jason Mirch 24:17
So but your photography was a series but this was a single feature film. Yeah. So that single feature film gets an incredible amount of downloads. It's a it's a it's right in Adam Sandler's wheelhouse in terms of what they do. And it crushed it crushed and it and it was not what it was not a major blockbuster. You know, it wasn't an Avengers thing.

Alex Ferrari 24:35
This is funny because I've actually done some research on what happens why Adam Sandler, is having success on on on because he hadn't had success like Sony lost them. He was Sony's boy for a long time. And then he kept putting out get on bomb after bomb and it just didn't do as well. But in Netflix he kills and the reason for my research that he kills is that when people are scanning through when you know when you click on an Adam Sandler film, generally speaking other other other than uncut gems, generally speaking, you know what you're gonna get? And there's a comfort there with all that with him. What do specflow What's unique about that actor and David Spade, Chris Rock that whole crew Adam Sandler has. You understand what Kevin James, you get that you know what you're gonna get? Yeah. And they'll give and it's part of their subscription and they'll just download it. And I've watched a ton of Adam Sandler movies. I was a fan of Adam Sandler from back in the day, and he's still doing the same shit hit stick stick he did in waterboy. Like it's,

Jason Mirch 25:43
it's all it's all Yeah, absolutely. It's

Alex Ferrari 25:45
not really changed dramatically until he does like uncut gems, which is a whole other like punch drunk, love. Love. He goes that he goes, he wants to be serious sometimes. And that's fine. And you should he's actually a fantastic actor. He's,

Jason Mirch 25:57
he's a great actor. And I think the biggest disservice that the industry or do that's done to him is that they don't treat him as though he's a fantastic actor, you know, like I get back box. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 26:08
well, the same thing. Robin Williams did the same thing. Jim Carrey, any comedian, they go down that road. But it's fascinating the way the whole industry has changed. Where before, you needed to have a huge, giant blockbuster, you know, box office receipts, but now you don't because the model is like Netflix. His model is completely different than, than anybody else's. But they changed the game and Luke have a whole series conversation about Netflix and how they changed Hollywood. But it's fascinating. But with back going back to COVID, though, what are you hearing as far as the studios because I know from what I'm hearing, they're still listening to pitches, they're still buying content, they're still buying scripts, they're still looking for stuff. That hasn't actually it's actually increasing.

Jason Mirch 26:54
It's increased. Absolutely. And and on my side through stage 32. You know, obviously, like I said, we do, you know, consultations, coverage, pitch sessions, all that stuff. And we have writers from all over the world who are meeting virtually now with executive through that platform and platform. The executives are incredibly hungry for content. I think, you know, since the beginning of the year, it has only gotten more busy, where we've had, I think, 275 requests from executives looking to meet with writers and, you know, in terms of development, nothing slowed down in terms of hearing pitches, nothing has slowed down, like you said, it's ramped up. What's changed, I think, is what they're interested in. You know, I don't think you're going out right now and pitching your post apocalyptic virus movie, you know, that's, that might be

Alex Ferrari 27:47
Oh, yeah, look, I look I just heard somebody they're releasing the full I think the full moon guys are releasing Coronavirus, zombies like that. I mean, there's an audience for it, I guess

Jason Mirch 27:59
we're living in, we're living it. I can turn on the news and watch that for free. You know, so that's, so what I mean, everything I'm hearing from executives, I got a really good buddy, an alias production company. And he said, every studio he talks to says, give me a rom com. Where's your rom com? And he's like, I haven't developed a rom com and 10 years but no, but that, you know, they want romantic comedy. They want light fare, right? They want things that are inspirational, aspirational. They want things that live in that sort of Best Exotic Marigold, the bucket list good feel good type movies, even if the even if there's something that is, you know, daunting as a private right? Bucket List, for instance, is about two guys who have terminal cancer traveling the world. Right? Right. You know that, but it's an uplifting film, and it's a lot of fun. And that's, that's what they want. We want escapist entertainment. I think there's all you know, there's always still a place for really good thrillers, psychological, paranormal, paranormal stuff, always as well. Animation is going to be coming in a big way. And that's not to say that it's it's you know, not kids movies, not kids animation, but it's, is there a place for adult animation, no grown up stuff, Scanner Darkly, or whatever it is where you might be able to take something that that you've you've written, it could be animation, or it could be shot. Let's see if it works for animation, because your actors are enough booth that's controllable, your animators can work remotely, largely. So it still keeps up the social distancing thing. So a lot of I know I've known three managers who are like, give me animation writers give me animation directors. Let me want to give me scripts that are that are animated or that can be animated, because that's what studios are looking for as well. That I think that's you know, obviously that's a byproduct of COVID directly, you know,

Alex Ferrari 30:00
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. And obviously dogs hates Christmas movies, obviously. Yeah, I mean, obviously.

Jason Mirch 30:16
Well, you know, I, there's still so many directors that say, like, look, I can I can bring this movie to Hallmark right now. And we can do it for under a million bucks. And it's a Christmas rom com and it will crush because you go to any home in the middle of America, you walk into any house randomly. And they will have Hallmark on watching those movies during holiday time. You know?

Alex Ferrari 30:37
Yeah. And they and they will they have them like I'm 24/7 have so much of those. Now, that's 24/7 loop and 30 days or 60 days before Christmas, or running up. And it's it's evergreen, and it's evergreen, and the Christmas Christmas movies. And if you put the right if you put Dean Cain, you put Melissa Joan Hart, you put this certain talent that has made a very lucrative career.

Jason Mirch 31:02
Absolutely. In that formula to it. You know, it's like, oh, yeah, here's the setup. Here's the new person in town, here's the struggle. And here's the kiss at the end. And we're out, you know, is done to your Sharman, commercial or whatever. And

Alex Ferrari 31:13
that's it. Exactly. But that's the world. So as far as screenwriters are concerned, I mean, obviously, there's a lot of content well, and of course, we haven't talked about series as much we're talking about films series are huge. And, and that is actually I think, the me personally, I think that's kind of the growth area. I think a lot of people said that this is the growth area for writing and production because it's you get more bang for your buck. You know, your financial buck. Like if you got 20 million bucks, you make one movie, or a season. Right? You know, it's and that's what people are looking for right now. Like Netflix is looking for series Docu series and, and you know, just series in general. And now there's still the peacock and HBO Max.

Jason Mirch 31:57
Oh, yeah, they're every everyone's gonna have, they're all gonna have now the thing? I mean, there's two two big things there. I mean, the first one is, you know, at Yes, as a screenwriter, you should absolutely be writing and developing a series or a pilot or something. And I just had, I was just talking to another writer that I was mentoring earlier. And I said, you know, they had they had one screenplay, and they're like, how do I get a manager and I said, write five more things, and write a pilot, right? And then you can really start to look for a manager. But one of the things I talked about was this idea that even if you write a series, and you're going into a Netflix or a peacock, or a Hulu or whatever it is. The first question I'm gonna say is, this is great. Who's your showrunner? Yeah, yeah, so So you know, the first thing you need to do as a screenwriter is understand you're not going to be running the show. And you don't want to, because running a show is a nightmare. And and as a first time screenwriter, I think, I think the biggest misconception, the biggest mistake writers make is thinking, Okay, I'm gonna run in I know my story. I'm going to run the show. And that's not what this is not the way the in the room. Yeah, be in the room. But no, you don't want to run the show. So yes, series series are always going to be one of the first things that I tell writers to write, or at least a pilot, and have an idea where that's going, but then immediately try and find somebody who is like minded, who understands your world that's capable and has done this before. And then you can walk that into a Netflix, you know,

Alex Ferrari 33:31
right. Yeah, a lot of film, a lot of filmmakers and screenwriters think they could just kind of like walk in the eye to go Netflix is buying like crazy. They're like, I heard like a think probably within a month after COVID hit. I heard from inside of Netflix that they're like, look, we're good. Yeah, we we've got three years of content, either done or in post. Right. So if we stopped production today, we have three years of content reserved. And oh, and by the way, all the studios freaked out and just dumped a ton of titles of them at a quarter 25 cents on the dollar. Because I started seeing that I start seeing like a Netflix. I'm like, wow, these are all these studio movies. Brad Pitt and all this. I started flying by on Netflix, like what happened here? Right. So it there's a misnomer. Do you agree to hearing the same thing?

Jason Mirch 34:23
Yeah, absolutely. That's exactly right. And I think that that's one of the biggest things that people Yeah, people think that Netflix is out there buying like, you know, a drunk sailor, you know, you know that they're not even walking again, in the same way that I thought as a kid, I could walk into Paramount get my overall deal. You don't walk into a script and be like, Oh, Netflix, here it is, you know, where's my money? You've got you've got to come with something that's really groundbreaking and really interesting and again, fits what their model is, what their algorithms are. I mean, the thing that Netflix has, it's so cool that that really didn't exist until their creation was an algorithm that tells them them exactly what their customers want. Right? I mean, we were developing, you know, even Hollywood, you're developing stuff, basically on spec, even as a studio hoping that somebody is going to show up and attracting models. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And that's, and that's where this whole, that's where the whole development model came from where let's buy 150 things at the, you know, over the course of a year, we'll, we'll develop 20 Of those, we'll put 10 into production, we'll release these, you know, and hope to God one hits, right. And then, of course, corporations came in and said, What's stupid, and they tried to pare those things back. And that's why we get Marvel movies and things like that, because they're the only thing that works. Or that's the only thing that a person realizes I'm not gonna be fired for buying or developing. You know,

Alex Ferrari 35:44
there isn't. That's another thing. We definitely should talk about fear. This entire town is run on frontier and risk averse. That's totally, because if you make one mistake, you're out there is no, there's no second strike.

Jason Mirch 35:58
And nobody, nobody that I know of, honestly, has ever been fired for saying No, they've been fired for saying yes. Right. But they've never been fired for saying no. So the default position really is cover your ass in a lot of these places. Now, that's not to say, and that's not to say that when a screenwriter brings in a pitch, or a script, or a spec, or whatever it is, there's not an executive, it's like, Fuck, I hope this is good. Like, they want it to be really good, you know? Because so because they want, they want to advance their career. So they're really hoping you bring it so don't you know, it's not to say that executives are sort of sitting back and being like, no, is it as a default position? They want you to be bringing it, but they're going to be very selective on what they bring, you know, to to their team, and to get behind and put their neck out on the line to get behind it and say, Yeah, say this is one that I would make. Yeah, like back in the day that

Alex Ferrari 36:49
there would be executives or producers who would who would take risks. You know, there's certain I mean, Spielberg would take it Spielberg has made a lot of, he's produced a lot of content, and not all of its good. I mean, he's taken a lot of risks on a lot of filmmakers. I think it was, I think he produce a Mexes first film, car, carwash, and then his car wash. Yeah. And it bombed. But Spielberg loves Zemeckis. He's like, I want you to do this Back to the Future thing. He's like, no, no, I don't want to, I can't and he had to go off and do Romancing the Stone. Then he came back at it back to the future, anything I can get, but but it was but but you know, would have that would Xebec is make it in today's world, you know, in this risk of would any of these like? With Scorsese? Like, can you imagine a 19 year old Scorsese today?

Jason Mirch 37:41
Yeah, I mean, I didn't just nail that, though. The, it's the relationship that, you know, it's the power of those relationships. Right? And, you know, again, RB will be on here preaching about it, because it's so true. You know, the reason why you'll see a lot of these guys being successful and coming up together is that they built those relationships. And and yeah, Zemeckis made something that that didn't hit, but Spielberg saw something in them, they maintain that connection, and they, and they are able to make something else, you know. And that's true. You know, I tell screenwriters all the time, meet as many screenwriters as you can meet as many directors as you can, don't sit there and be like, I've got to know, the head of the studio, you know, I've got to know the head of this cup production company. You know, the guys that and the guys and girls who, who help you get stuff made, or your contemporaries and other people around you, who you're coming up with. So, meet them, talk to them, get their insights, get their feedback, you know, that's those are the people that you need to impress, and then and help, and then they'll be the ones that helped pull you up as well.

Alex Ferrari 38:49
And that's how, you know, when I when I met our beat, five, four and a half, five years ago, um, you know, we started to build a relationship just purely because we we liked each other and then I eventually cast them in my feature and then made him world famous, obviously. But

Jason Mirch 39:06
right. So magnanimous Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 39:10
I mean, obviously made him world famous. Um, he was telling me that he gets people that reach out to him all the time like, Man, I saw your the movie you and it was did Amanda ever tell you the story of how their first screening of the film when they when RB and Amanda both came to my office, my suite is to watch the moving they sat there. I hadn't told them that I was going to have the character in the movie called I call them RB I originally was gonna beat the name out very Kill Bill ish. But they kept saying it's so many times I'm like, it's gonna it's just I have to just kind of leave it in now. So right every time the main character yells out RB Amanda pices herself. Even to this day, she cannot stop laughing But to go back to what we were talking about it is our relationship. That's a relationship. You know, that's, that's built over years. And let's talk a little bit about relationships with screenwriters specifically. Yeah. Because it's something that I mean, I've talked about before and other on the other on the other podcast, but in this one, I haven't really spoken about it too much. Though the do's and the don'ts about approaching someone in perceived power or perceived they could do something for your career. I know you know this very well. There is a stench of desperation is called Jowhar, Desperado. Yeah, that oozes that oozes from from desperate filmmakers, screenwriters. And I know this because I bought cases of this cologne and wore it constantly when I walked around Hollywood when I first got here. And anyone who's been in talent long can smell it a mile away. And I have people come up to me and like, read my script. Connect me to this. Yep. Hey, I know, you know, our B, can you get this to RB? Can you do this? I'm like, I'm like, Dude, I don't

Jason Mirch 41:09
know you. Like, but Hi, my name is Alex. Yeah, like

Alex Ferrari 41:13
Hi, I'm Alex. Yeah. So can you talk a little bit about how to build a good like an authentic relationship? And what your advice is on doing that with screenwriters? Because I think screenwriters and filmmakers both, they both are afflicted by the same disease. In regards to in regards to this desperation I've seen especially young filmmakers and young screenwriters coming up, they just they don't know any different. It's kind of like yelling on social media.

Jason Mirch 41:43
Absolutely. Well, and I think and I think the other the other the disservice in the misconception that exists out there is that you've only got this one shot, right, you walk up, and you've got 30 seconds this person, so get your entire life story out in 30 seconds, get them the script in 30 seconds and press them in 30 seconds, with how great you are, how talented you are, how smart you are with your elevator pitch and all this other shit. And it's just not true. You know, I mean, the first I mean, truly, the first thing is to be selfless in the business, you know, and to authentically take an interest in the other person. I think that's what's what's largely missing in a lot of people really, but But it's, for whatever reason, concentrated and exacerbated in people who wish to succeed in the entertainment industry. We are so concentrated on our own hustle. And our own, I've got to I've got to make this in this business, that they forget that there's another person across human being who has their same hopes, dreams, fears, concerns, questions, you know, wondering about, you know, how their mom's doing, or whatever it is, and I'm going to come at you as hard as I can, that you've, you've already lost me. And so the first thing I would say is be be selfless. I mean, ask what you can do to help that other person first inner authentic way. You know, that's, it's such a refreshing thing to be like, first off, I thank you, I admire what you do. I tell me, you know, tell me more about you. You'll, you'll, you'll, it's gonna be amazing how many doors open up for you just by being authentically interested in what the other person has to say.

Alex Ferrari 43:25
I found in my in my journeys in in lala land, that when you approach people in general in the business is always being of service. How can I be of service to you? How can I help you? That is gonna make you stand out so much more than read my script? Do this for me suck, suck, suck, suck, suck energy sucker, as opposed to like, Look, I'm a big fan of what you do. Is there anything you need? You know, I can I can, how can I be of service to you? How can I help you? With anything, you know, offer Time Offer energy Offer? Offer services, you know, like, Hey, I wonder, like my parents, my parents own a vineyard, do you? Do you need a vineyard? Not that that's a very, you know, common thing. Um, things like that. That's a that's a thing of being of service in a relationship, and then that doesn't happen in 15 seconds. It takes time.

Jason Mirch 44:27
Though, it does take time. Absolutely. And I actually got that question. I got that question from a writer one time he said, Okay, but what if I only have three minutes with this person, you know, and I said, You do not spend that three minutes asking for shit. You know, spend that three minutes talking about how that person has impact your life again, what you can do with them. And then if it's appropriate say look, I would love to continue this conversation. If if you would like to at your convenience at your leisure, what have you would it would you mind if I, you know, reached out on some level, whatever that is. And if it's a yes, great if it's a no, okay, you know, but don't You're, you're going to get further with that approach than you will with the, here's my script, here's my, here's my one sheet, here's this, you know, get this to somebody, or can you make this and then the other aspect of that is again, you know, building your community building your network offering to help those around you who can't do anything for you right now. Because that's again, that's the mark of somebody who is going to be successful. It's, it's amazing to me the number of people who reach out and say, Is there anything I can do to help promote you on social media? I've got you know, my, the following might be 500 people but that's such a kind hearted thing to do to say what can I do for you, you know, and largely miss and then the other thing too is just being able to carry on an organic authentic conversation with somebody is a lost art. We've just lost the ability yes to talk you know, we have you it's it's shocking how quickly people just dissolve when you try to have a conversation with

Alex Ferrari 46:14
them. Like a real like a real conversation.

Jason Mirch 46:17
Conversation you know, it you know, we're so we're so quick to try and get our shit out and get my hand out that there is no conversing there is no true. Give and take in a conversation or give, you know, give and get that sort of thing. It's just blasting out people, you know,

Alex Ferrari 46:35
Can we can we discuss a little bit in regards to the politics of of the business a little bit because there is it is an unspoken it's definitely not tied to film. And generally not spoken a lot in even in education in any sort. So occasionally, you'll get nuggets here and there. But there is an unspoken politics involved that filmmakers and screenwriters have no idea that they get caught by buzzsaw. So perfect example was the TV. The TV idea, like I have a pilot I'm gonna be the showrunner No, that's not the way this works, dude. Like, you know, you're not you're not Shonda Rhimes, and even Shonda Rhimes didn't get her first show. Right,

Jason Mirch 47:19
but Rob wasn't trying to rise back then. Yeah, she

Alex Ferrari 47:21
wasn't Shonda Rhimes. Either. Aaron Sorkin wasn't Aaron Sorkin when he first showed up? And that's the delusion I think that a lot of screenwriters have. So can you talk a little bit about how, let's say, let's talk in TV first, and then maybe talk in film about like, what is this? What is the politics? What are these unspoken words? Like, we kind of touched upon it with the fear aspect, where executives are going to cover their ass, and I'm not going to take a risk on you and your script. When? If I do and it doesn't. I'm out. So that's that's that's politics. That's a bit of politics.

Jason Mirch 47:54
Right? Absolutely. Well, I think yes, and there's, there's a, there again, there's a massive disservice that is done to young writers and and writers who are coming up. And it happens. Again, I mentioned award shows, you know, if you watch any award show that takes place, there, you're gonna announce the winner of the award show, or you know, of the best new television series or best screenwriter, whatever. And as this person is walking to the stage, inevitably, the announcer is going to say, this is his first nomination and first win. And this is the first thing he's been developing for the last 25 years. And now he's won this award for 25 years, but he was also doing 50 Other things that are in various stages of development. He wasn't doing this one passion project that suddenly hit. And it wasn't as though this happened overnight. And it wasn't a singular effort. You know, to your point about all the writers we just mentioned, they all had careers as baby writers, as failed writers, as writers who needed the help of somebody else, to mentor them and bring them up and give them advice and give them you know, a tough love on their project. So that's the biggest thing is that, and straight away writers think and a lot of filmmakers think this person was an overnight success.

Alex Ferrari 49:16
And I think Jordan Peele would be a perfect example of someone who looks like it was overnight. But he had been hustling and working on, you know, comedy for most of his career, where then he made this monumental film or shot not only wrote it, but directed it, get out. But it looked like an overnight success. Like they just showed up.

Jason Mirch 49:39
Right? Right. That's exactly right. That's the biggest disservice is that we look in filmmaking in entertainment. We still subscribed to the store, we subscribe to the overnight success because it's a nice narrative when it's total bullshit.

Alex Ferrari 49:54
It's a lottery ticket, a lottery I call it a lottery ticket mentality. It's like people think that this is yes, this is The one this script is going to be the one this film is going to be the one that blows me up and I can go live in the Hollywood Hills, have lunch with Spielberg, have dinner with Scorsese. And then I hang out with Fincher and Nolan on the weekends. And I party with Tarantino, and I party with Aaron Tina.

Jason Mirch 50:18
Exactly, exactly. Right. Yeah, exactly. Right. And they're all telling me what a genius I am the whole time is possible. They just translate tell me how great I am. Exactly. Yes. So that's a big problem. That mentality right there is a big problem, because it's such a it's such a cold, wet slap in the face when you realize that's not the way this business works. And truthfully, the the the the naked script. The script that has no attachments has nothing, you know, except for a really great idea. It takes a you know, that's not going into production tomorrow. It's not getting greenlit based on that script alone at this point. You know, it's it's so much of it now is to your point about politics? Who's Who's in it? Who's directing it? Right? Where, where can this be shot all these things, that it becomes such a bigger part of that. And by the way, as soon as you sell that screenplay, there's a good chance you might get rewritten and never hear about it again. You know, there's so many writers who have made a good living careers on scripts they sold that have never gone to production, you know, that have never been made, or that they've been rewritten off of, you know, and then and that's it. So, you know, the ultimately the the one of the biggest things is that the the holding in your hand right now is, is not the thing that's going to end up on screen without a lot of other thumb prints on it. And that's a big,

Alex Ferrari 51:45
no, can you talk about and I know you have experienced this. And I think this is something that a lot of screenwriters think this is the truth, but I don't I don't think they understand the reality of it, is they think that there's no good writing in Hollywood, that they're that everyone is waiting for the script, that's going to be that there's just no good stuff that gets produced. Or like there's just as a lack of good writing in Hollywood, which is the absolute opposite. I've read scripts that were so amazing. I'm like, Why isn't this a movie? Like, why didn't this win the Oscar, and I've read tons of those scripts. So there's an illusion in the in the screenwriters mind, especially one that's outside of the party thinks like, Oh, if they're just waiting for my script, that's genius with ego, and that's a whole other conversation. But they think that there might be a lack of good script. It's not about the lack of good, good content. It's the now before it's like anything in this industry before a good script was enough before a good pitch was enough. Right? And now a good script still not enough because there's another 10 or 20 Good scripts on that table alone. It's what is it packaged with? Who where is it coming from? Is it hitting the time periods in the right place? The right time with the right project? Right, the right group of filmmakers involved? So can you touch a little bit about that?

Jason Mirch 53:06
I'll give you I'll give you a perfect example that when I was back in storyline, we were we were taking out a pitch. This is before Orange is the New Black by about four years. We took out a women in prison show around town, and we took it to NBC. It was a it was a a woman Maria gente was the writer. She's fantastic. She was sort of an A co EP level she'd written on some some series. She was ready to take that next leap and become the EP show runner.

Alex Ferrari 53:37
What year was this? What years?

Jason Mirch 53:39
This was this was 2001 2008 2009 2009 Ben Silverman is president of NBC. Okay, right. 2009 we take this pitch out, and she sells it in the room. She sells it in the room to NBC with Ben Silverman who's like, I love it. I get it. Women in prison. I'm all over right. And we walk out the door like, fuck yeah, man. This shit is easy. You know? Films hard. You know, that was the second thing we had sold in like two weeks was good. I was like, it's hard. I am a genius. You're right. I am a genius. And so we sell this thing on a Thursday, Friday, variety hits Ben Silverman out at NBC. He'd been fired on Friday. And that show died right there. Right. And so we read rivalries like FOC and I remember we called up the executive NBC we're like hey, so how you doing? And they're like don't worry it's worse we still love this we love this series. It's great. Isn't it was that that was it dot did they ever make a pilot of it or no, never made a pilot? We that we the pilot written it was beautiful. Never happened and then years later, of course, oranges, the new black comes up. And I'm like, alright, well, that's it, you know, at least the instincts were right. But this the all of that to say, there's any number of reasons why your stuff is is not getting made or why things that you think are not great are getting made. You know, there have been so many passion projects that that started out as something really great. That ended up not being great. There's a lot of reasons why, to your point about is it the right time is the right demographic is the right this and that all that stuff. There's a reason why things get paid that we think we're like, we sit back and look, well, that was terrible. Well, nobody, nobody sits, you know, nobody said something like, Well, I can't wait to make a terrible movie. You know, they're making stuff because they truly believe that this is going to be something fantastic.

Alex Ferrari 55:50
Well, it was kind of like when, like when Passion of the Christ hit that everybody wanted faith based material, because like, oh my god, there's a lot of money in it. And now, because of COVID Everyone's like animations too big. So there might be an animation script that would have never gotten a second look. Well, right now because of the market. It might get in there. And

Jason Mirch 56:10
that's your thing. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you're exactly right. And the other thing that that writers tend to do is try and chase a trend. Right? So you'll hear you know, so you again, you're somebody's gonna be listening to this right now. And they'll be like, oh rom coms hot, I should write a rom com, you know, or, or, and then they're gonna spend six months to a year writing their rom coms. And then by the time they get it out there, that trend is gone, you know, and so and then we're back on to space invasion thrillers or whatever. You know, that's, that's the difference chasing that trend, whatever you see in the theater, that you think you're going to right? You're done. You're already done, you know, that's done, you know, chasing faith based movies, because that anomaly hit in such a big way. You know, it just doesn't make sense. Right, right. Stuff that that's appealing to you, you know, that that turns you want, because inevitably that does it there's it's gonna find an audience somewhere.

Alex Ferrari 57:11
You know, you remember remember after Pulp Fiction hit how many bad Pulp Fiction ripoffs came out afterwards. Yeah. Oh, bad. It was really bad

Jason Mirch 57:18
one and really bad. And then the bad like Talentino knockoff dialog that they would try and oh, yeah, that's trying. Not realizing what Tarantino does with his dialogue. They would sit there and be like, you know, this. This is very Tarantino esque. No, it's not because you're not Talentino you know, like,

Alex Ferrari 57:35
Sorkin s are very quiet or Sorkin

Jason Mirch 57:37
right.

Alex Ferrari 57:38
You can't write that. That's that.

Jason Mirch 57:41
Right? That's exactly right. And there's a rhythm to them. And that and that's why they hit you know, you you can't you will not get ahead trying to be like, to my point earlier, you know, I went in to film school thing I was gonna be Spielberg Well, there's one of him, you know, and that you're not it, bro. So find find you, you. And that's where you got to live.

Alex Ferrari 57:59
Yeah, without question. Now, how can screenwriters better position themselves post COVID? Is there anything that you can think of that? Because the landscape is changing? So there's, I mean, January 2019 2020 20, is a lot different than now. And the whole industry has changed. And I guarantee you 10 years 2021 is gonna be a whole lot different than we are now. So is there anything that you can suggest for screenwriters to do to kind of position themselves to be a little bit ahead of the curve? Not that you know, what's going to happen, but just anything that can maybe stack the deck a little bit?

Jason Mirch 58:35
Absolutely. I mean, I think that the biggest thing right now is is the networking and direct access to people who can help get projects made is unprecedented. You know, everybody is at home, reading everybody is at home looking for something to do. So being able to connect with people and network with people, filmmakers, again, other screenwriters, producers, executives, whomever it is, Do not be sitting out waiting for productions to get rolling, because by that time, you're already behind the game, right? So you need to be getting your work into the market right now. You need to be getting eyeballs on your material. I mean, we touched on stage 32. I mean, the you know, I constantly hear from writers who email me I constantly from writers on the platform who asked that question, how do I get out and I said, get on the platform, get network with people, be able to connect with people, you know, and I say connect connect with me. I mean, you know, my email is Jay dot merch at stage 30 two.com. Write to me, let me know what you're working on. Because if you're not getting your stuff out there right now, you're doing yourself a massive disservice.

Alex Ferrari 59:52
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Jason Mirch 1:00:02
So that's one so so being able to network and connect with other writers or filmmakers, people who are at home reading and then the second thing is, again, no know what's not going to hit. It's hard to like, you know, it's hard to read the tea leaves. Obviously, nobody knows. Nobody's ever known what people want. You know, I mean, that's that's just the reality. Nobody should know. What

Alex Ferrari 1:00:23
should you quote? Should you quote William Goldman? At this point? Nobody. Nobody knows nothing. Yeah,

Jason Mirch 1:00:31
there's no there's anything. Yeah, exactly. Right. We're making our best guesses. But the best guest says, like I said, you know, I'm not going to be looking at you know, post apocalyptic virus movies, you know, right,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:47
contagion. Contagion to an outbreak to not so much right. No, not

Jason Mirch 1:00:51
Yeah, exactly. Right. Well, you know, so funny cuz I had somebody somebody pointed. Well, they said, Well, you know, Netflix is, you know, has the number two and three movies are outbreak and contagion. I said, Okay, well, those are made. Again, you're not going to remake that movie and be like, well, here's, here's my version two, you know, just for some too soon. It's too soon. It's too soon. Again, to another point. How many how many 911 movies came out post 911. And how many of them were successful? Like that's, that's good. Was

Alex Ferrari 1:01:20
there a successful nine? I mean, I know that Oliver Simon did one

Jason Mirch 1:01:24
there was an Oliver Stone one there was a Tom Hanks version of one twin. Those extremely loud, incredibly close.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:30
Oh, yeah. Yeah, that was that was like kind of like an off off the 911 911.

Jason Mirch 1:01:33
Adjacent.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:36
Yes, exactly. And, yeah, Sandra Bullock. Yeah. centerbrook was in that

Jason Mirch 1:01:39
right? And then in the United 93, all these projects, right. I'll be honest, I didn't show up for a single one of those. Nobody. I don't I live through that shit. I we've we all watched that. And I don't need to, I don't need to go back to that place what I want. And what I think a lot of audience wanted was to break out and have escapist entertainment. Do you know, this is interesting. The number one movie in 20? I'm sorry, in 2002. Made $350 million domestically was My Big Fat Greek Wedding. And of course, right? That movie has zero conflict. It's just a big you know, it's, it's it's a fun movie. It's a fun romp. Don't get me wrong, right. That the the sequel to that made something like 12 years later made like $57 million. I make no money. Right, comparatively, but people want like, you're coming out of 911 You're going out coming into an Afghan war, right? You've also got we got Iraq war on the on the horizon. And people like, I just want to fucking have a good time, man. Like, let me see what this Greek Wedding shoots all about. And that's what that's what people showed up to right place right time.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:46
Right product,

Jason Mirch 1:02:47
right place, right time. Right product, you know, and again, but and, and specificity to that person that right or that character, you know, nearby dollars, you know, that was so specific to her. But it was universal in terms of themes. And so that's the only thing I would say. semantically look fanatically, there might be projects that come out that deal with isolation, Cabin Fever, something that you don't see that can kill you like a predator, whatever it is, right. Thematically, those things will exist, certainly. But at the same time, make it specific to the story you want to tell what's resonating with you right now. And that's that's the only way to really get ahead of a curve is to think about what's what's your internalizing?

Alex Ferrari 1:03:32
Yeah, I mean, after COVID hit, I mean, I've been I've gotten 2030 COVID short films, about about COVID About COVID. And I'm just like, guys, I don't want I don't want to watch a movie about COVID I don't want to watch a short about COVID. And there's not gonna be Yeah, there wasn't, I don't think there's gonna be a COVID movie that's gonna break out.

Jason Mirch 1:03:58
No, I talked, I talked to a universal executive who said, we've been pitched 77 or 70, COVID movies, we've passed on every single one of them. We're not making that movie. You know, we're just going to make that movie. No. You know, just because it's happening right now. Doesn't mean it again. Specifically, because it's happening right now. Doesn't mean there's an appetite for it. You know, it was like any

Alex Ferrari 1:04:22
I know I was gonna say like nom nom happened with Vietnam happened. It took it took a while before Vietnam films happen. And it was like probably what another 10 years later before platoon and Hamburger Hill and Full Metal Jacket and that that whole section of time where Vietnam films were a thing, right, but didn't come out in 60s 69.

Jason Mirch 1:04:42
No, no, no, because they're what you're watching on TV. Exactly. Right, man, you know, I mean, and then you look at, you know, post post depression. World War Two is going on. It's musicals. It's musical comedies. It's Lightfair. That's what people wanted to show up for, you know, Again, my wife and I have watched nearly every Netflix romantic comedy, you know, that they had to offer and that and that's not you know, that's we're not alone in that, you know, there's a reason why those things are having a resurgence.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:13
And that's what and that's also probably one of the reasons why Disney plus is doing as well. I mean they got 50 million last hurt I heard 50 million subscribers in in what? Yeah five, four months. It took me Spiele like four years to get 10 million subscribers

Jason Mirch 1:05:27
Yeah, well into your point to about Sandler and knowing your brand. We know what we're showing up for when we show up for a Disney product we just know they've done they've been they've had 100 years to do it. But they've got such a solid brand you know exactly what you're getting when you sign up for that. Yeah, that's gonna be the end and they've got a library that's gigantic and owns everything you can think of. So there's there's going to be something there that people subscribe to or subscribe for Yeah, it's

Alex Ferrari 1:05:57
I just got HBO Max the other day because I just need to have I just need to know that have access to friends. I just need to know if I want to watch it. It's there. That's all I got to know. But we you know we're going through ballers right now we're just finishing up. I hadn't. I'm catching up on all these series that I had never saw like I think True Detective I've never seen I gotta go to two detective. Yes. So good. I hear

Jason Mirch 1:06:24
first season is incredible. First season incredible.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:27
I'll leave it at that second. The third is it worth second or third?

Jason Mirch 1:06:31
Sec. Second was second was rushed, man. I mean, it really they had such a battle. It wasn't meant to be a recurring thing. They were supposed to have that one series. And then they blew up. It was fantastic. And then they they sort of hurried the second season. And you can tell you can tell how about a third. And I don't even know if I watched it. I don't think I don't know. I did. I started I started and I felt the same way. I felt so just

Alex Ferrari 1:06:55
watch season one and we're out

Jason Mirch 1:06:57
season one will will blow you away.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:59
I just I just walked we just finished up How to Get Away with Murder. Oh, yeah, the whole series. Great series, wonderful writing, like wonderful, wonderful writing. It's just so much stuff. There's so much content out

Jason Mirch 1:07:16
there. There's so much content and and the other thing too is because there's so much content, how quickly are you how quickly do you abandon a series that's not working for you? I mean, you know, or, or a film or anything you can get, you know, gone I'll get five minutes into something. I'll be like nope, bucket. I don't like it. You didn't hook me. You know, I episode

Alex Ferrari 1:07:36
1015 minutes. Maybe I give maybe a one episode to have a show. Like we just finished like a little while ago, Shameless, the entire 10 seasons. Right? Yeah, bones, the entire 12 seas. Like it's just like, it's it's facet, it's but now I'm catching up on all of the shows that have always wanted to watch. Well, now I got HBO. So I'm like, Oh, great. Now I get all the HBO stuff. I'm not sure if I'll get Peacock, but maybe

Jason Mirch 1:08:03
well, and that's the other thing too is is you know, I was talking to somebody and we said, Alright, realistically, there's Netflix, there's going to be Amazon because Amazon Prime it's free, it's free. It's free. It's built in, you know, Disney plus, I can then use all of these. Yeah, and you've got all of these other ones that are gonna be kicking around jockeying for fourth position fifth position, what you know, and are at a certain point so peep there's gonna be fatigue where people like, I don't need to buy, you know, lifetimes streaming service or whatever, you know, I don't I don't want that I want Oh, no, these it's gonna be like you know, it's almost you know, it's almost like it's almost like the the original like big three networks. You know, you had the big three networks you had it was those what you had? And you know, and there's more control in a person's hand right now. But ultimately, I you know, who knows how long some of these other streamers are gonna are going to be able to keep it up.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:57
I think I agree. I agree with you on the on the top three now because Disney has positioned itself in that in that conversation with authority and there's no one that's going to dethrone them from that because they just own family they just right now. Everybody wants family everybody wants like writer and they own all the family and light fare be done. Absolute Marvel Star Wars Pixar, Disney and even now Fox and

Jason Mirch 1:09:20
mom's in the entire catalog. Exactly. So

Alex Ferrari 1:09:24
they own all of that stuff. I think that HBO Max peacock that they're CBS All Access. Those are some of the bigger ones but like, like lifetime chat, I'm not gonna spend is it 99 cents a month on VOD? Yeah, it's 99 cents a month and maybe, but it's these and there's over what three or 4000. I have a streaming channel. I have my own streaming channel, but it's very specific to filmmakers. And I'm not going after 10,000 100,000 followers, right. It's much more specific But these other channels like to have mutual friends, like, like imagine like, would you spend 399 for lifetime? Like, it doesn't make any sense?

Jason Mirch 1:10:10
No, it doesn't. And that exactly. And the reason, again, to the point earlier about walking into a home during a holiday season, there's a Hallmark Channel on, it's because it's easily deliverable, and it's part of a package as part of a bundle that your satellite or cable provider give you. You're not going to find the 65 seven year old woman who's going to get online and try and purchase the Hallmark VOD, you know, are you kidding me? They've got you, she's not gonna happen, you know. Um, so that market is already razor thin. And that's, you know, and again, you're gonna, you're gonna see, I think, you know, it'd be interesting to see all these consolidate into one package and, and ironically, basically have taken cable satellite, or cable and satellite, you've put it on the internet, and now he's got cable satellite on the internet.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:01
I don't think it's gonna happen though. I just, I don't think everyone's gonna get like YouTube TV. I have YouTube TV, which gives you the local and it has a ton of other channels. So it's like my version of cable. But you, you record anything and everything you want endlessly, right? Which is, which is fantastic. And Hallmark, and all these other channels are on there. But I know someone's trying to figure that out soon. And someone's trying to do this one apple is actually trying to do it. It's trying to put them all in. They can't. Like it's like why wouldn't Netflix do that? Like,

Jason Mirch 1:11:32
right? Absolute? No, yeah, net, though Netflix, I would just doesn't make sense for those guys. I mean, again, taking like the big three again, will always exist. What's you know, it's gonna be interesting, because some what some of these these studios did is they made the mistake, in my opinion, of trying to build a streaming service, like they build their networks, or they built their studio, or whatever it is where it's all so new, they just flooded these positions, where well, we've always had this in a network, we've always had this as a studio, let's just put it on the internet. And we'll just do that version of it. And it's like, that's not the way you work. That's not the way it works. You know, you've got to be nimble, and you've got to be super small and very targeted, and it makes sure that you're again making things that are on brand that people are going to show up for. And you don't need to be, you know, a part of that if you're if you don't have that audience. Yeah. And

Alex Ferrari 1:12:21
I think HBO is positioned itself is out of all of those people. HBO has a brand and has has a specific brand that it connects with Warner Brothers, and kind of it's been Warner Brothers style since the beginning that gritty, you know, from back and back into get the gangster days, like, you know, back in the 30s and 40s.

Jason Mirch 1:12:41
Yeah. And HBO and HBO had HBO Go before that. So people are already kind of accustomed to I can watch this online at my leisure. You know, and then they just made it, you know, obviously, expand that that brand, like you said, and it works. So well. The one

Alex Ferrari 1:12:58
thing we haven't talked about is there's a there's an elephant in the room with regards to streaming, which is Apple, which if they want to, they could demolish everybody, if they truly want to they have the budget, they have the money. And a lot of the content that they've been creating has been not as well received as they would have hoped. They haven't had a breakout yet. Right? They haven't had a break. I just signed up for it. Because there was a show I wanted to I think I wanted to watch the Beastie boy documentary. So I'm like I Okay, that was a 399 fine. It's like a rental. I'll take it up for the month, I'll make sure to cancel it. But they're a big they're they're, they're an unknown quantity yet. And I and I don't know what you feel about this. But I do think that you've got Apple, Google and Facebook, all sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see what happens. And they're going to start acquiring some of the studios. There's I've said this publicly a bunch of times, I think the three best studios that are in the best position to survive is Disney Warner's in universal because they're the most diversified. Right? But Sony paramount, Lionsgate MGM, they don't have that diversification. Or, or the franchises to be frank, right? That to survive in this environment where Apple could come in and just by Paramount's library, which is massive, and by Sony, that has a massive library as well. I think that and then when that happens, the whole play field changes. Imagine if Apple bought Sony tomorrow, and has all of Sony content now becomes a much more interesting conversation to get soon to get Apple Right.

Jason Mirch 1:14:35
Absolutely. I mean, and that's the thing, you know, so interesting, because historically, so many studios had been acquired by they'll be acquired by you know, Paramount was golf in Western company that I think it became Barbie. Car. Yeah. Yeah. And then you had Seagrams bought universal and then a quick the problem. I mean, the issue is you got you know, people want to be in the movie business. They want to be in entertainment. And so you know, these these moguls are no different these corporations are no different they see, they see it as a line item certainly. But then, you know if if Google or Apple or whomever goes in and buys a paramount, their cleaning house, I mean, oh, like even the real estate alone to maintain, you know, and even and even the, you know, the idea of having to try and keep up a distribution machine, right and then feed that distribution machine. That's a massive undertaking, you know? Well,

Alex Ferrari 1:15:30
I think I mean, but if you look at Apple, Apple's business model, they don't care. They're very unique in the position because, and maybe Google to a certain extent, but they're hardware company. They want to sell iPads, iPhones, computers, and all of a sudden you buy your new iPhone, you've got a year subscription of Apple TV for free. And we'll get and it's just another way to connect the consumer with an apple experience. They don't care about what what Hollywood does now and their business models. It's not even in their ballpark like Netflix. Don't Oh, skirt, Marty, you want $200 million and complete carte blanche to do whatever the hell you want. Here you go. Why? Because they don't need a box office return. They right. They have other parameters, other other metrics that they go after.

Jason Mirch 1:16:21
Right? Absolutely. And you know, I remember years ago, I said the thing that would and this is when Netflix was still mailing you DVDs. You remember that? DVD?

Alex Ferrari 1:16:31
I look a lot younger than I am, sir. I appreciate that. No.

Jason Mirch 1:16:36
I remember I remember getting the DVDs in the mail. And I remember thinking like, holy shit, if if Netflix can figure out a way to do digital streaming, and they can go worldwide. They're gonna be unstoppable. Right? Because those are the two. I mean, they just got to jump on everybody.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:52
Okay, a decade for Disney. And it's taken them a 2008 is when they hit. So it's been 12 years that they've been thinking about opening up their own streaming service slice.

Jason Mirch 1:17:02
Right. And why exactly, that's exactly right. And you know, and it's, it's interesting, because, you know, I'm a massive Disney, the business of Disney, the history of Disney. So, so the idea of, you know, Eisner and Katzenberg coming over from paramount to run Disney and really, you know, safety. One of the one of the things Frank Wells said, he's like, you know, I think was Frank Wells, I said, this, he said, I open up a door, and behind that door as money, every door, I open up has money behind it at Disney, because they weren't, you know, that was the, that was the advent of VHS. And they had Disney had not released any of their library on VHS, they wouldn't do it out of principle. And it was like, fuck that, like, They that VHS saved Disney, you know, in the early 80s, and into the late 80s. As a result of that, you know, to to not jump on a streaming platform and streaming bandwagon and be able to get that. I mean, you're right, they came in 10 years later, and look where they are now. I mean, they're already caught up pretty quickly, or they come up pretty quick, you know, Apple apples interesting, because Apple, and a lot of these other streaming services that have a ton of money Kwibi isn't i We can definitely touch on Kwibi

Alex Ferrari 1:18:15
Yeah, let's all could be in a second.

Jason Mirch 1:18:18
I mean, they're bringing in NASA filmmakers throwing massive amounts of money at them, because again, they are hoping they're hoping that contents gonna hit. They're hoping that if you hear Spielberg is doing something with Kwibi you're going to try and get a query subscription, right? Or Apple same thing, you know, Netflix, same thing they've they're, they're pulling these big names away from studios, or at least in competition with studios, because you're right, but Netflix will say Do whatever you want Marty you know, you need to you need a 10 million more dollars 20 million more dollars to do some more D aging fine, you know, we'll take it it's it's a totally, it's a totally different ballgame now because there is so much money. And these these companies don't have to they don't have a corporate overlord that sit there be like, Hey, watch, you know, you've got to make some of the hidden or you're or you're done, you know, you're fired.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:13
And I think out of all the out of all these companies, the other ones we've spoken about other than Kwibi. Netflix is very vulnerable, because they don't have a diversified business. All the other ones we're talking about are diversified, every other streaming service. And they all have other ways of making money where Netflix it's the one revenue stream. Yeah, they license out Stranger Things to T shirts occasionally. But generally speaking, that's, that's that's it. So if that dries up for whatever reason, if something happens to that revenue stream, the entire company goes down. Where if Disney plus shut down tomorrow Disney's fine if HBO Max shut down tomorrow, Warner's is fine. So it's really it's interesting that They are, they're the big boy, but they are vulnerable in a sense, and we are going to get to that critical threshold of, there's no more people than to to no more subscribers, like they've already Netflix is it's so beyond the US now they're just trying to go worldwide now. Sure, but at a certain point, they're just like, you're gonna hit, you know, you're gonna hit that threshold and you're not gonna run. So then it's now I'm spending money just to maintain what I have let alone to attract new subscribers, we are going to get to that in the next I say in the next 10 years or so.

Jason Mirch 1:20:35
Yeah, well, it's absolutely. And to your point about Disney. Bob Iger famously said like, we don't make movies, well, we make our products and the movies fit into those products. Right. So, you know, frozen to is a commercial for every frozen backpack, lunchbox, RV, Dolly. That's what that theme park ride all that. So what what Netflix doesn't have to your point, you're exactly right is an ability to really cross collateralize those things and be able to, you know, have different business groups talking to each other to really figure out alright, how do we make the most possible money out of this

Alex Ferrari 1:21:13
there then that I wrote a whole book on it called the rise of the entrepreneur, which is how to create ancillary product lines, which is basically the Disney model. I mean, Disney started this back in the 30s. I mean, when you are in the 20s, late 20s, early 30s. Like, right now, as we're speaking someone bought a Mickey Mouse t shirt somewhere in the world. Absolutely. And they're still generating revenue off of that IP. And I actually did a whole episode of How I actually went into the corporate filings from 2019. I think it was, yeah, 2019. And they made 70 billion. Gross. And then I wanted to see how much is actually movies, exhibition of movies, which is what a studio is supposed to be doing. And it ended up being that out of number one was, you probably know this, but number one was theme parks and resorts. Yeah, taking a hit. Right. Right about now. Not not a growth industry.

Jason Mirch 1:22:01
$30 million a day. They're losing. Yeah, it's

Alex Ferrari 1:22:04
not a growth industry at the moment. But generally speaking in the normal world, it's a good situation. The next was licensing for networks, cables, ESPN, that thing, then came movies, then came merchandise, but the merchandise also has to be included in the theme parks and resorts because they sell a ton of merchandise. So it ended up being about 15% of the entire 70 billion was generated off of like box office and receipts or exhibition of the movie. Everything else was around that and that's where people have such a hard time understanding is that Disney not only and I think it started with Eisner. When he when he came in, he'd say I mean Eisner saved Disney. Yeah, just no question. There's no Bob Iger without without Eisner regardless of how he left, but regardless of how it ended the relationship without eyes without eyes, and there is no Disney today that he started building this infrastructure out. Back then they're like, look, there's a lot of assets here. We're gonna start building out a system and infrastructure to start and then that's how the merchandising came out. Then the theme parks started pumping out then all this stuff, to the point where now it's just a money machine. Just like I have a buddy of mine who works at Disney. He's an animator he worked on frozen. And I and he take a we brought in all of our they got brought in by the brass and they wanted to show all the animators how they make their money. So they took every single animated film, and they broke it down into categories like okay, 30% merch, 30% theatrical and 30% home video. And then they got and it's like, and they like, you know, Aladdin, and they do all of those right, then they got the frozen. Right, it was 90% merch. Yeah. And 10% And that movie made like a billion and a half dollars. Yeah. And he goes, Do you know how much we made how much Disney made on the under dresses, the little dresses that like my daughter's bought, like they bought two or three sets of it back in the day. A billion on just adjust the dresses. Yeah, on just the dresses. And that's what people like. That's what I'm trying to let people know about independent filmmakers like there is a way to do that model in a smaller fashion where you can create ancillary product lines and create other revenue streams and an independent standpoint to be able to build up a business that makes sense right and so on. But that's that's the business and that's why that's why Paramount Sony Lionsgate they don't have that they are stuck in the 90s

Jason Mirch 1:24:29
Yeah, absolutely know that that's exactly right and and the the the the trouble is it's very difficult to read you know, look Paramount's I think I think para has a great America. Right? Great. America is like a like a theme park that exists. Like,

Alex Ferrari 1:24:44
I've never heard her. It's huge. It's monstrous. Yeah. Everybody knows about it. Great. America. Everyone goes to the end of the Super Bowl goes where are you going? Great America. No, nobody.

Jason Mirch 1:24:57
Exactly. Um, you know, that's that's gonna be the biggest struggle, like you said about Netflix and all these other streamers. But you know, as you're exactly right as a, as a screenwriter, you you don't want to come from a position necessarily, in my opinion of being like, Okay, here's what a lunchbox looks like, here's what a Barbie doll looks like, You're that that's not necessarily it. But I think you're 1,000%, right? When you have to say, Okay, how does this fit into a larger conversation about what, like how we're going to monetize this? Because ultimately, that's your right box offices, around box clubs around the world is is shrinking. Largely, you know, there's, there's more expensive tickets, there's fewer tickets sold more expensive tickets, bigger, bigger box office for bigger movies. But if you're doing it on the independent side, if you're doing something that's, you know, sub sub, you know, $20 million, or 5 million, right, whatever it is, right? You've got to figure out a way that that's going to live for a longer period of time, you know? And that's, that's the biggest challenge that writers have and trying to figure out, okay, you know, if this is, you know, if this is a story that I that I desperately want to tell I get that, how do I get somebody else, to see that it's something that desperately needs to be told?

Alex Ferrari 1:26:20
But also, but with screenwriters though? Shouldn't they? Like, what's your opinion? Should a screenwriter write a film an independent film that could be done for a million or 2 million bucks to in? Did you have a better chance of that getting made? If it's solid, then going into the studio system, and trying to get and try to play that game? Because that game you could play for a decade and not and not get anywhere? Without question. So what is the better place to be like, where, where would be a stronger position? I produced this, this is something I produced, it was financially good. And they made money with it. Here's my next five projects, or, or I have a project here with no attachments on it helped me.

Jason Mirch 1:27:03
Right? No, you're exactly right. No, you're exactly right. Go make, you know, go. If you're writing something, write something that can be produced a sub sub two $3 million. Right. And, and probably you can do a really good project. I mean, this is not bullshit, you can do a really good project for sub a million dollars. Oh, yeah. And still and still break out and get noticed. Right? You're exactly right, it's so much better to have a produced credit that you can point to and say, Hey, watch this, as opposed to Hey, read this, you know, it's just it's, it's, it's the nature of how you how you are able to be to your point entrepreneurial, and get your project going. The biggest I think mistake writers make is they think I'm a writer, period, full stop. And that's, and that's it, that limits you because you need to be a writer, a writer, producer, you need to think like a producer, you need to think like a filmmaker, you need to think you need to think like a distributor on some points to our point about earlier about who's actually seeing this movie right now. Right? Why would I as a financier, put $5 million $10 million $20 million into a COVID movie I'm not doing right. But if I can put less than a million dollars into something that is, you know, is a big fat, Greek Wedding type style, whatever it in that vein, or in that theme, and whatever it is. That's, that's my safer bet. So you're right. I mean, I think that it's very much, you know, rather than trying to straightaway go knock on the door of a studio. Because ultimately, though, you know, there's, there's a handful of writers that studios are will approve, will work with whatever it is, you know, to your point about politics. I was a developing executive for many years, and we had our lists, we had our rom com list, we had our thriller list, we had our horror list, we had our prices, we had our boxes, right? And, and we would and we, you know, we would get a project or we would come up with a concept and we said, Okay, who are our five writers we're gonna go to right, she's busy, he's busy, he's writing in this, this last draft was not great that he turned into, okay, it's this guy, right? Or this girl and we would come in and that's how you know, you know, you pick you wouldn't as a studio executive, go out and blast out online. Hey, I'm, you know, looking to write a rom com anybody? Anybody got some ideas out there? Like you as a studio executive, you weren't you're you're you're trapped by the that sort of system, you know, and, you know, you're certainly always looking for writers, but you're looking for writers from certain sources, right. And that's let's say

Alex Ferrari 1:29:43
gilded cage, like a cage.

Jason Mirch 1:29:45
And you're you're going out to the eight you know, you were going out to the agencies when when brighter still had agents, you'd go to the doctor yet, you know, there's so much shit looming down the road. You'd go to you say, hey, get who your rom com writer like, Well, this guy wrote this, she wrote this, she wrote this wrote this great send me samples, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:30:09
we'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Jason Mirch 1:30:19
Now, but now, writers have so much more power in their hands to actually write and get get shit out there into the market into the world produce, find producers find financiers find other filmmakers. Again, I can't stress this enough. You know, it's it's through. I mean, Thursday 32. We had a writer who entered one of our screenwriting competitions, our search for new blood contest, she won that contest, we set her up on a meeting with a manager, that manager set her up on a meeting with an agent, that team got her a StudioCanal picture. So in under a year, she went from winning a screenwriting contest on stage 32, to writing for StudioCanal, right adapting project that was totally in her hands, she had an incredible amount of ability, right. And she had a stack of scripts at home, by the way, that wasn't her only script she wrote. But she went into that man that meeting with with a manager. It was it was Jake Wagner, who was over at good fear at the time. And she said, Yeah, I wrote the script, and, and I've got a stack of other stuff. He's like, great signs in the room, get her set up with verb, and then they get her this this for her first paid gig and under a year. Right? That, and by the way, you know, she was a lawyer by trade, you know, so it wasn't like she was sitting there grinding away, you know, scaring people. She was she was, you know, she entered this contest. And again, that was totally in her control. You know, and that as a writer, that's how you have to be thinking now all these avenues have to be open to you.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:54
So Let's real quickly before, before we finish, let's touch upon this whole agency thing. I actually was talking I was actually talking to a because I heard about it, but I didn't know the details about it. And I was talking to this very well known screenwriter, a friend of mine that he was explaining it to me, he was on the phone with me. He was like, oh, no, this is what happened. And this is why, you know, we were talking about a project. I'm like, Oh, should we send it over to your agent? And they're like, no, no, we don't have agents anymore. I'm like, what do you what do you mean? You're like, right, big screenwriter. He's like, I'd heard something was like some rumblings going up. I didn't hear about it. And he's like, No, this is what happened. And just like everything else that's going on, like, like you were saying earlier that we don't I think that no one's gonna go back into a car to drive an hour for a 30 minute meeting anymore. think everyone's gonna get screwed that we're going to do a zoom meeting. Yeah. Because, yeah, now because we're forced to deal with it. I think now writers are going I don't, why do I need to give 10% away to an agent? I can. I'm good. I don't I I'm living. Yeah.

Jason Mirch 1:32:57
So what is what happened to what happened? Yeah. And meanwhile, an agent is gonna say, Well, wait, why am I trapped at this agency, when I can go be a manager and a producer and take a smaller client, you know, roster and go do my own shit? Why am I again, working for a gigantic agency? Where I'm just trying to get my clients commission? You know? No, it's it. I mean, I don't know, if you have you touched upon this at all. I mean, I've never,

Alex Ferrari 1:33:21
I've never touched upon the WTA situation with with the agency. I don't think I think we've glanced on it. But we haven't like gotten into the weeds a little bit. But if you want to explain it to people, that'd be fine.

Jason Mirch 1:33:33
Sure. I mean, so So basically, the idea was, years ago, there was you know, initially there, there was this idea that an agent would represent a piece of talent, a writer, a filmmaker, whomever it was, and in exchange for getting that person a job, they would get 10% of that person's salary. So agents are incentivized to work for their clients to hustle and get them jobs, and also get them the best deal possible, because that would get them the highest commission possible that is that the most simple definition representation, right. So ultimately, what happened was to our to our point earlier about packaging, and try to make your project more valuable. Agents at a certain point, sort of say, well wait, if we have this script, we can also put it with this director, who's also a client and we can put it with these 123 pieces of talent who are also clients. And we'll be able to take this out as a whole package to a studio, a network, what have you and then sell it them. Now, we won't necessarily take the commission from the creator of the show or the writer, we won't take that 10% But we're going to take an overall packaging fee that comes out of what the budget of the show would be from the network, right or from the residuals or from the back end or whatever it is. And so ultimately, the writers are, you know, making the They're fees on this project. They're not being commissioned. But then they, as these gigantic shows, Walking Dead, break, Friend, friend, all these shows, start making crazy residuals, these agencies are making incredible amounts of money that they're that their clients aren't seeing at all. And so the clients are saying, wait a second, how are you making hundreds of millions of dollars a year on this show that I created? And I'm not seeing a fraction of that, right, I'm getting whatever little checks that we're getting for residual. So. And on the agency side, the agents are saying, well, yeah, sure, we're taping this packaging fee. But do you remember that pilot that you asked us to set up and it went nowhere? Do remember all the meetings I took for this, you remember how we set up this and that died, that there's a lot of work that went into representing you that we never got paid for? Because we're on? You know, because because we are on this commission basis? So

Alex Ferrari 1:35:53
that that's it? That's yeah, that's,

Jason Mirch 1:35:55
those are the two arguments that are basically yeah, I'm not saying I agree with it, that's the agent the agents position is, is we you know, there's a lot of work that we do for you that you never see and that we this offsets all that work. Now, the reality of the situation is what happened is the the WJ said, Okay, fine, as a guild as as represented writers, as part of this guild, we are collectively firing our agents who do not sign a code of conduct, which basically would would eliminate packaging fees, and the structure as it currently exists. And so writers who are who are dear friends with their agents for many years, suddenly were without, without agents. And a lot of the agents who, you know, we're, again, we're at these massive agencies suddenly had all of their client lists leave them are most of their client lists leave them, and they're still trying to figure out how to bring money into their company, so they can justify their job. And so, ultimately, and before COVID hit, there was talk of a an all out writers strike, that would just again, collectively shut down the town. Now, given that we're just coming out, you could argue that we're trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel for this COVID thing.

Alex Ferrari 1:37:15
You can argue that we are heavily sir.

Jason Mirch 1:37:18
It would be it would be shocking. If the WJ said great productions are able to go again, let's all strike

Alex Ferrari 1:37:25
Yeah, that, you know, Oh, you guys haven't eaten You haven't eaten in six months. Anyway, let's strike.

Jason Mirch 1:37:32
Let's all strike. And so ultimately, that that's sort of the the, you know, I guess the last 18 months to a year of what has happened with the WNBA and the ATA boiled down.

Alex Ferrari 1:37:44
So But wouldn't it make sense, and let me just put this out there, because I do agree. Now I'm throwing in my two cents, not that anyone's are giving it. But um, that if the there is a value to what the agency is doing, without their connecting of all of the pieces, there is no, it makes that project much more enticing, and actually helps get it lit, where I find the problem with it is that they are taking all the revenue and all the back end and not giving anything to the Creator. If there has to be a split there. I do think that the agency, if they're not going to take any money up front, that they do deserve something on the back end. And if everyone makes money, we all make money. But there has to be a cut there. And that's where they got greedy. I think if they would go Okay, guys, we're going to take a packaging fee, but you guys are also going to get X X X X percentage of it too, right? And we're going to share in the success as a whole, which is fair, because without us putting this all together, chances are that we're not gonna be able to make this happen. So does that make sense? Am I

Jason Mirch 1:38:46
again, but you know, it's interesting. Again, we're talking, you know, and I've got a lot of friends who are agents, a lot of good friends of mine. Uh, you can't blame an agent for being an agent even when their agent game for themselves.

Alex Ferrari 1:38:58
I mean, you can't blame a scorpion for stinging the frog. Like it's

Jason Mirch 1:39:04
that's what they are. And they went and they went and got the best deal possible for themselves. And now you're trying you know, now we're trying to back up that that cart? Um, no, but you're exactly right. And the other thing that you know, people aren't talking about is how agents don't really want to be agents in the traditional sense anymore because there's not a lot of money left to be made it you have a look, you had you had William Morris, who was acquired by endeavour, right, which became William Morris Endeavor. And then it became endeavor con, you know, there's endeavor content. There's William Morris, or web. And ultimately, they're trying to figure out a way to diversify to get other streams of revenue, because they realize, again, to what we were talking about earlier, there, there's only so many jobs in the traditional sense available in Hollywood. Right. There's this many studio productions every year there's this many TV shows that have this many writers in the writers room. Eventually there is going to be a ceiling for all that commission coming in And so you can do you know, a couple things, you can try and poach as many clients as you can and control as much of the town as you can, you can try and you can try and do the packaging fees and try to get money on the back end as well, you can try and finance content through a finance arm, which a lot of agencies are doing. But again, agents are not able to be producers, legally, so they're not able to participate in any, in any revenue or anything else, except through these, this this packaging Fee Scheme, which was concocted, whereas managers, which is what again, which by law, you know, a lot of agents are like, Well, fuck this, I'm going to, I'm not going to be an agent anymore, I'm going to go set up my boutique management company with five other guys who are also former agents who still have a client list, or whose clients will come back to them when we're no longer agents. And we'll go set up stuff and we'll go produce stuff, and we'll go find the financing and all that with our existing relationships. And so there's gonna, there is gonna be a cataclysmic shift in terms of which agencies survive and don't, and the large ones will get larger, the small ones may shift and decide to be agile companies or fade out. But ultimately, it's all good news for writers. Because I mean, truthfully, it is because now writers are gonna have access to former agents who are now managers who need to build out a client roster, so they

Alex Ferrari 1:41:23
can also produce and they're also producing things. So now they can, they can now actually, Greenlight projects, because they're built, they're, the thing that I'm hearing is, uh, basically, they're learning that I don't want to be, I don't want to be a guy working on the line anymore. Alright, girl working on the line anymore working for the man, I want to, I want to monetize my relationships and my influence in this town, to be able to generate more revenue with those relationships. And that's basically what they're trying to do, which is where manager has been all along. But now it's like, so now the management pool is getting a lot larger, and UN agencies are starting. Yeah, I agree there is a limit. It's just the town has changed. And let's not even talk about how many non union non represented, you know, talent is out there that is producing, that's producing work for Hallmark. And we're producing work for lifetime. We're working for international. That's it, there's a lot, it's just the game has changed so much.

Jason Mirch 1:42:16
Well, that's one of the things that I always talk about with you know, I'll talk to executives all day long, I'll talk to writers, you know, through stage three, two, and, you know, I'll have, I'll have writers email me and say, Hey, I'm from the UK, or I'm from Singapore, I'm from Finland, wherever it is. And you know, how do I get representation like, this is the time man, because one, the Internet has changed connectivity in a massive way. You can, you can do what we do from anywhere at this point. And then the other thing too, and again, you know, you're able to connect directly with managers, executives, producers, actors, filmmakers, and you don't need to be in the same room anymore in the way we had to be 10, five years ago,

Alex Ferrari 1:43:02
five months ago.

Jason Mirch 1:43:05
And you're exactly right. And it's far more accepted. Now, to do a zoom meeting, even if you're in Burbank, and I'm in Manhattan Beach, or wherever we're not, you know, I'm not gonna hop on a flight to fly to Burbank from Manhattan Beach. I was

Alex Ferrari 1:43:18
I was about to say, Manhattan Beach, you might as well be in New York. I mean, it's just like, I'm not gonna, I've driven to this day, 32 offices back in the day, and I was like, it was an hour and a half hour 45 to get there. And I'm like, I just RV, you got to do this, you gotta come to me, man, I can't, I can't do this.

Jason Mirch 1:43:37
Totally. And now we can do this stuff. It's totally acceptable to do it over zoom, or Skype or whatever it is, and pack in four of these meetings in the time that it takes to do you know, to

Alex Ferrari 1:43:48
Norbit, you're able to do more business,

Jason Mirch 1:43:50
you know? Yeah. So and again, the the the success that I've seen writers have as a result of no matter where they are in the world of connecting through states 32 directly with executives, whatever it is, is incredible. I mean, the the, the option agreements that are happening, the representation that's happening, the production agreements that are happening, all with writers who are not based in LA, it's, it's, it blows that myth out of the water, that you need to be in a room with somebody in LA to get a job or to sell your script.

Alex Ferrari 1:44:26
Without question, especially for writers for filmmakers. I always tell them like if you can make it up to LA. I mean, I'm a transplant I've been here 12 years. If you can make it out here. The learning curve out here is so much more rapid than it was in a smaller market. You just I tell people like in the first year I learned more than that in the first five years I learned in Florida. I was in South Florida. So it is it just being in the business being around it talking to people everywhere you go. This is all pre COVID Like any any Starbucks you walk into, there's Final Draft everywhere. It's a joke, right? Oh, yeah, it's

Jason Mirch 1:45:02
a cliche. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:45:05
All you see is Final Draft laptops everywhere. And I and I always love walking, I always I always play this game like, I'll jump into an Uber in LA. I'm like, so how's the script going? And like, I'm telling you five out of 10 times, it's like, how do you know? Like, how's this? How's the script going? And how was the audition? And those are the those, those are the two things that that you hear. But you You learn so much more being here. But with that said, if you live in another country, if you you can absolutely sell a script. Right out being in town for writers is a lot different than being filmmakers, filmmakers. I think, if you can do it, it's great. If you don't rap, but you but you don't have to do that.

Jason Mirch 1:45:44
Yes, 1,000% Yes, but I would say also as an independent, if you're a truly independent filmmaker, meaning you're off trying to, to shoot your own project in whatever part of the world you're in the, the the barrier to entry is so incredibly low now. And it's basically your skill set. So because you can shoot on, you know, my iPhone camera, which is 4k quality, right? You can shoot, you know, you can cut on your home computer, there are so many ways of getting your work out there that again, didn't exist before. And and if you've got something to say that people actually want to listen to, you're limited by yourself at that point.

Alex Ferrari 1:46:22
Yeah, I mean, we shot on the corner of ego and desire with our beef for 3000 bucks over the course of four days, running around running around Sundance with a little 1080 p camera. And it looks it looks fine. It looks great. I mean, I saw I projected in the Chinese Theater and I was shocked at how beautiful look, it was so but also but that being said, I have 25 years in the business I have a lot of tools in my toolbox. I carried a lot of the weight on my own shoulders. It's like you said it's limited to your own skill set and and your own relationships as well. Right? Totally. Absolutely. So um, we could keep talking forever. Jason. I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests. Sure. What are three screenplays every screenwriter should read

Jason Mirch 1:47:06
read screenplays. I'm the one that I love. John August adapted big fish is and I think it's incredible. I think the the next one that I would say that I really enjoyed. Just my pure writing perspective is the apartment which is behind me. If you can't you know, for those of you that have the picture. That screenplay went through somewhere around 27 revisions before it was put in production. So it's from 1960 and it still holds up to this day. It's incredibly written and at a time capsule for the 60s By the way, which is it's it's it's not like watching something like Mad Men where you see them try to recreate it that's actually it. So it's a very cool step back in time, but it's it's so so beautifully written. Um, and then the third one that I absolutely loved from a from a writing perspective and Eisner to go back to some of your talking about earlier said it was the most perfect screenplay he ever wrote. Or I'm sorry, read was raised the last arc Yeah, by Lawrence castle. Which again is my favorite film but we're going back and reading the screenplay and then what I would also recommend doing if you haven't if you haven't done this is go back and read the transcripts of the call

Alex Ferrari 1:48:25
I have that we had that I have a it's on the shot it's on the I'll put it up put it in the show notes actually. They I posted it as an article it's amazing to listen to Lucas and Kazdin breakdown down Indiana everything from didn't the way that all rolls to everything it did was a chasm only did Lucas also called right that was the chasm only and that screenplay

Jason Mirch 1:48:47
that's good question I think what's chasm with like a story by for Julia J.

Alex Ferrari 1:48:51
Lucas? Definitely got the story by um okay. Yeah, cuz Catherine is such an amazing writer

Jason Mirch 1:48:56
incredible in Korea and then his son came back and his son's doing number four whatever trying to write number four for the franchise for tougher

Alex Ferrari 1:49:03
for indie for me number five.

Jason Mirch 1:49:07
Oh, God, we have five now. Yes, we're on number five now. Thank you. I I purposely skipped over four. Yeah, I only go I go to three. It shall

Alex Ferrari 1:49:15
not be discussed. Yeah, just stop. Yeah, shall not be discussed. It's kind of like

Jason Mirch 1:49:19
that's it? Yeah, it's still the best trilogy that has four movies in it. I would say

Alex Ferrari 1:49:23
that like it's rocky one through four. Then we just go straight to six. We don't talk about five. It's not it's not needed. Exactly. Now, what advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?

Jason Mirch 1:49:38
Write every single day. A meet people network every single day. Have a clear vision for yourself and the stories you want to tell be specific as possible in your storytelling to you. It's often summarized you know, people will say right what you know, and that doesn't mean right, Your Honor. Biography. It means write something thematically that resonates with you. And so be be truthful to yourself. Be honest with yourself about what resonates with you don't try to write something that you think is going to hit in the market. Don't try to chase the trends like I talked about earlier. But network, write every day, get honest, accurate, constructive feedback from from sources that you trust. Because those are the things that are going to make you ultimately better.

Alex Ferrari 1:50:30
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life? Wow.

Jason Mirch 1:50:38
That's a good question. I think the the longest that took me the longest to learn was that I should trust my own instincts. And if somebody, if somebody says, I don't get it, or I don't see it, that doesn't mean that you're wrong, or it doesn't mean that I was wrong. It just meant that they saw something differently than I saw. And so I had to learn that just because somebody said I don't get it, or I don't see it or whatever. It doesn't mean they're cheating on you or your idea. You can trust in Trust in what you have to say.

Alex Ferrari 1:51:10
Yeah, cuz I think Indiana Jones was rejected by a few studios.

Jason Mirch 1:51:14
Yeah, yeah, it was, I think wildly around town.

Alex Ferrari 1:51:17
If everything everybody, I think the only reason Paramount agreed to it is that Lucas, like said he'll pay for most of it or something like

Jason Mirch 1:51:26
that. And I think yeah, exactly. And he

Alex Ferrari 1:51:29
owns a lot of it. If it hits, it goes, but if it goes down, he goes down in flames. So he took a risk on that. And three of your favorite films of all time.

Jason Mirch 1:51:40
Three of my favorite films of all time. Well, I've already mentioned the apartment. I've already mentioned Raiders, so I won't I won't go back to those. And now you've just made it really hard. Or I made it hard on myself. Back to the Future, I guess. I guess so. So well constructed. I constantly teach that film in in the writers room. Which will which we want to talk about a second. I'm constantly constantly teach that film. Braveheart I think is incredible. Just the film wildly historically inaccurate.

Alex Ferrari 1:52:12
Good cinema, good cinema cinema.

Jason Mirch 1:52:14
So uh, so so well, just like Titanic. Know that Titanic was that was a documentary that was

Alex Ferrari 1:52:22
true. That was obviously rose. I mean, she's still alive.

Jason Mirch 1:52:26
She's still at somewhere, floating, floating out there behind the back of the boat. And then a third one, I'm just gonna, I'm gonna shoot from the hip on this and say, whatever comes to my mind. Um, you know, I really I really loved again, just from a an overall, it's so well constructed as a film is seven. I think seven. And of course, you can talk about everything else. You know, he's done since then. But seven, I think he was just so so well, well, he was just in this in this group.

Alex Ferrari 1:52:56
Well, you're talking you're talking my language now because seven is in my top five along with Fight Club, as well. Yeah. I mean,

Jason Mirch 1:53:03
by the way that could have been it could have been a tie between between Fight Club and 72. Arguably,

Alex Ferrari 1:53:07
two of the best movies of the 90s

Jason Mirch 1:53:11
to the best, and that I think are were largely underrated at the time. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:53:17
I think it was definitely underrated. And it's aged very well. And seven wasn't seven was a hit. But it was a pop hit. They were like, oh, it's it's but now people going oh, wait a minute. This is it.

Jason Mirch 1:53:28
Yeah, it was. Yeah. At the time. It was you know, Brad Pitt and Ben Paltrow. And you know, it was like it was, but now it's like it's aged so well.

Alex Ferrari 1:53:35
And they also say that with Zodiac like people understand that, that that is a masterpiece. I mean, yeah, the Zodiac can be like when the Zodiac came out. And it was like,

Jason Mirch 1:53:45
right, right. Absolutely. That did that scene in Zodiac where they're showing the passage of time. And they're showing the camera moves as they're building towers in San Francisco. Ah, years passing. Incredible. Incredibly,

Alex Ferrari 1:53:59
he's one of the best he is he's our it's him and him and Nolan. I always go back and forth between Fincher and Nolan because of their they are if you combine them the both of them, you've got Kubrick. occurrent daigou break. Because, you know, Nolan, I think even more so because he really loves Kubrick. But I still remember walking out of ice white shot in 99. And my friends asked me, Did you get it? What did you think of it? I'm like, I don't know. I'll understand it in 10 years, but I don't and I did. I took me about 10 to 12 years to figure it out. I'm like, Oh, I see what you're talking about now. Yeah.

Jason Mirch 1:54:36
That was on that was on the other day. And I came in about a third of the way through it and stopped what I was doing and and watch the rest of it. Because I was it's it's kept it's hypnotic. It's,

Alex Ferrari 1:54:46
it's personally my favorite Kubrick film and it was a lot of people's like, why I'm like it is art, my personal favorite and I still has the best opening shot out of like one of the top top three opening shots of all time, with a title that comes open, it was just he was working at a completely different level. And I think currently Fincher and Nolan are both working at that. They're just Terrence you know, there's a handful of filmmakers that are working at that ultimate level.

Jason Mirch 1:55:15
Well, that's exactly right. And again, there you can, you can point to their specific style, important their sensibility. And it's and it's so uniquely them. And again, if you want to be successful as in this business, that's, that's a, you have to find that for yourself. It doesn't mean you have to, you know, copy what they're doing. But you've got to find that sense of a sensibility that is uniquely you and not try to write for the masses. If you write for everybody, you're gonna fail.

Alex Ferrari 1:55:43
Absolutely. And a lot of people think, well, Tarantino just steals from everybody. I'm like, Yeah, but that's his thing. Like how he is able to funnel his massive encyclopedic knowledge of cinema and spit it out. Through his filter is what makes him what is

Jason Mirch 1:56:00
you know, I mean, it's these it's these great homage is and by the way, every every filmmaker will will, you know, do something that has everybody has an influence for sure. Everybody has an influence

Alex Ferrari 1:56:12
everyone steals. It's not like every everyone steal shots, everyone steals like, we're all still like, whoever came up with the close up. We're all stealing the close up. We're all stealing the wide shot. We're all eating the two shot, some camera guy set up the first two shot.

Jason Mirch 1:56:27
Yeah, we're stealing. Imagine the first time they did a close up and I was like, holy shit that worked that we're doing that again.

Alex Ferrari 1:56:35
And then when they caught it between a close and a wide shot or something like that. What is going on? Like you right? In those days? Yeah, blue. One thing I didn't, we didn't discuss real quick. And then we're gonna get to the writers room and stay steady to the volume. And what's going on with the Mandalorian. And what they did. I just wrote an entire article about how it's not just me every a lot of people who understand technology, is it this is his emperor is important as a moment in the history of filmmaking as a T Rex walking across the screen, a 3d T Rex, it's that important. It's that right? life altering like movies will never be the same again, after this. Technology has been used the way they've used it in the Mandalorian. Would you agree?

Jason Mirch 1:57:22
Yeah, absolutely. 1,000%. And that's I mean, that's what's so interesting about about filmmaking, generally what I realized the other story about James Cameron, who when he was doing avatar, had the first Avatar, he had to literally shut down production to go invent shit that he could use to make avatar. You know, he's like, he's like, Oh, we just we just went on pause for like, a year and a half, two years to go invent something because we needed to invent it. That's it. That's incredible.

Alex Ferrari 1:57:50
And I always tell people, I have got I've told many Cameron stories here that had a guest on who've worked on and they're just amazing stories. But there is probably no other human being on the planet that can do what Cameron does, and has the the carte blanche that Cameron does. Like I don't think Nolan is walking in and getting 500 million to go invent technology like that's just not his wheel barrel. Spielberg is not getting that Scorsese's not getting that features. Definitely not. Definitely not.

Jason Mirch 1:58:24
Who knows what that guy would invent?

Alex Ferrari 1:58:25
I have a no way he's giving no way. No one with a sane mind gives Fincher open checkbook. Yeah, but Cameron was that guy, and you know, he walked into a studio is that I've got this idea. It's a new IP, it's about a bunch of blue people, it's gonna cost about $500 million. It's gonna take about four or five years to figure out the technology. No major stars, we'll have some you know, we'll have some Gorny in it. And, and you know, and most of the the main stars, they're gonna be CG most of the time, so you don't even get to see them. But I got to figure this all out. Can I get you know, can? Can you cut me a check for 200 milliseconds, just start building the technology. Like who gets that? Like, there really is no other filmmaker that would get that and honestly, in history guy.

Jason Mirch 1:59:08
Yeah. Yeah, that's, yeah, the guy who actually he's the only guy who made the most money with any movie in the history of cinema. He can walk in there and be like, okay, yeah, but even,

Alex Ferrari 1:59:19
but even then this he has a track record of right. Just being groundbreaking technology every step of the way. Every time he makes a movie. So it's just I mean,

Jason Mirch 1:59:29
yeah, what are you guys like Howard Hughes. You know, these guys were like filmmakers, but they were also like, he was an aviator was an inventor. That's those sorts of guys are, um, yeah, they're there once in a couple generations where they exist. You know? Elon Musk, I mean, one of these guys who was just like, a billionaire inventor who's like, let's throw this against the wall and sees what's Ironman? Ironman.

Alex Ferrari 1:59:53
He's Tony Stark.

Jason Mirch 1:59:53
It's iron. Yeah, that's exactly right. I mean, I'd be so curious what Elon Musk would come up with in terms of a movie who's a director of Jumping, I'd be like, I'd show up for that.

Alex Ferrari 2:00:03
What Tom Cruise is going to be the first movie shot in space. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. That's right. And Ilan is helping so right. So technically, yeah. And again, if you're going to get an actor to do it, who's probably one of the few actors in the world that they're going to go? You okay? I mean, Will Smith's not getting that call Brad Pitt's not getting that call. But Tom Cruise has set himself up to a place where like, Nah, Tom Cruise wants to shoot something space. Let's go out and shoot something.

Jason Mirch 2:00:43
The kind of guy that actually would 100% do that where he's like, you know, I'll swing for the Burj Khalifa. Yeah, I'll go to space. What the hell that seems like the next logical progression.

Alex Ferrari 2:00:52
And I can't wait to see Top Gun. I have my buddy, a buddy of mine worked on it on VFX. And he was like, Dude, the images are just, they shot all that for like, real? Yeah, it's all practical. It's all practical. He had to you had to you can't you couldn't do it. Today's world, you need something. Right.

Jason Mirch 2:01:11
And he's actually Wi Fi. Yeah, you would feel that you would? If you were to do that all CG or you would you would feel there's an office in authenticity to it. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 2:01:19
it's amazing. But again, then do we could talk for another two hours.

Jason Mirch 2:01:24
So tell me about closing Yeah, closing in Arby's record of 11 I got one.

Alex Ferrari 2:01:31
So, um, tell me about what you do at stage 32. And the writers room and tell me what you working people find you.

Jason Mirch 2:01:37
So I'm the director of script services over at stage 32. And for those of you don't know, stage 32, it started as an online networking platform specifically for the industry, you know, for speaking for creatives, you know, filmmakers, writers, directors, producers, actors, actresses, craftsmen and women. The idea being that, you know, LinkedIn is for CFOs, and it's corporate and it's cold. And Facebook is photos of my grandma's cat and kids jumping on trampolines. And there was no place for creatives, like mighty creative to connect. And so it was founded by the guy we're talking about rich RV bottle. And then there's since been to other divisions built out of that there's the education side, which is run by the Managing Director, Amanda, Tony. And we've programmed without exaggeration, 1200 hours or more of education from working executives, producers, screenwriters, filmmakers, managers, agents, all with the idea. Again, no matter where you are, you can learn from these people who are doing in the business. And the mind division is the script Services Division, which connects writers, with managers, producers, executives, PR, other filmmakers to get, you know, consultation calls notes on a screenplay, mock pitch sessions to help refine what you're doing in your craft, because you can learn about it. And then you're able to put it into practice through the Scripps services division. And we brought on a roster of executives from I mean, without exaggeration, major studios, you know, universal MGM, Paramount Television, the guys that are guys and women that are working in the business who can who can help shorten that path to success. And reaching out to me it's just Jadon merch at stage 30 two.com. And I can help you know, again, guide guide what you know, your career based on what you're writing the format your writing genre, who makes sense for you to connect with? Because, you know, I want it you know, I again, I come from a manager, manager background, I come from a development background, I want writers to have success. And then on the writers room side, that's something that that's very, very cool, because, you know, it's it's a group of like minded writers from all over the world who connect once a week, every Wednesday, and we have a different webcast that I host. And so, you know, one week, we might be breaking down aspects of the screenplay, right? We might be breaking down romantic comedies. The next week, we're doing pitch sessions where members are able to pitch to an executive and get feedback on that pitch, you know, this is where it's working, this is work and improve. Then we do an executive hour, which is actually a lot like this, I've got to have you on the executive hour, okay, anytime, and it's I'll put you on or I'll put you on our webcast and come over my place. We get to, we get to talk about the business like this and writers get information and knowledge on what's working in the business right now, what they can be doing to your point. And then the last week we we turn the cameras we turn the spotlight over the writers and they get to share something they've written over the course of the month, and they'll get feedback from those other writers and there's, you know, it's again, we've got writers from as far away as Scotland and the UK, Italy, as close as right here in LA It's it's an it's a place where writers can be supported, connect with other writers connect with executives connect with me directly. And it's just become such a familial atmosphere. You know, we've got over, I think we have over 500 members now. But it still feels like it feels like it's an intimate group, which is very cool. And again, if you, in fact actually forgot to do if you if if your listeners remember it is it doesn't matter if it's tomorrow, or whenever this goes up, or six months from now. Again, write me an email J dot merch at stage 32. Calm, and I'll give you a free month to give it a shot. It's nice, because it is so cool. And I like to give away free shit. So, um, yeah, so so I'll give your listeners a free month to come check it out. And I again, I want to have you on there because it'd be a lot of fun. Again, we would do we would do another hour and a half at least,

Alex Ferrari 2:05:51
you know, this me as you know, I can talk. So I'll be more than happy to show up. Man, it's been an absolute pleasure, brother, thank you so much for coming on and sharing information with the tribe and dropping the knowledge bombs, as I say, as I call them. So thank you again, Jason. Stay safe out there. If you can't please speak on it

Jason Mirch 2:06:09
anytime. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 2:06:12
I want to thank Jason for coming on the show and dropping those amazing knowledge bombs on the bulletproof screenwriting tribe today. Thank you, Jason. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, please head over to bulletproof screenwriting.tv forward slash 074. And I want to thank you guys so much for all the support for the new website, as well as the podcast over the last year or so. It is because you guys have been downloading these episodes so much, and sharing links and articles to the website to all your friends and social media. Following that. I wanted to continue to add even more content and be more of service to the bulletproof screenwriting community. So again, thank you so so much for all the support. Also, if you guys have not already done so please head over to screenwriting podcast.com And leave a review. If you liked the show. It really helps out the podcast a lot. Thank you guys so much again for listening. Please safe out there. And as always keep on writing, no matter what. I'll talk to you soon.


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