In this episode Clarke talks with Alex Ferrari about his work and passion behind the idea that every filmmaker regardless of your discipline needs to think like an entrepreneur.
Are you ready? I am, sir. All right. First question I ask everyone is Who are you? What do you do? And how’d you get your stop?
My name is Alex Ferrari. I am the founder and CEO of indie film, hustle, bulletproof screenwriting and film entrepreneur. And those are websites podcast and we’ll talk more about all that stuff later. But I’ve been a filmmaker for about 25 years. I’ve worked in post production for many of those years as a director, Director commercials music videos, features shorts, documentaries, I’ve done pretty much anything that can be shot or I’ve done in one way shape or form. And I’ve worked a lot in post production on big projects as well delivered probably 6070 features in my day and just spin around the business taking a lot of shrapnel over the years. So that’s a that’s a quick rundown of who I am. Okay, and
how did you get your stop
I got my start Well, I always take it all the way back to the video store so I was working in a video store when I was in high school. That’s where I fell in love I swear I got bitten by the virus infected with this thing that I can’t get rid of it which is called filmmaking and it and then went to film school and I got my very first job I mean I was I was working at Universal Studios Florida as an intern so I was working in the backlog on shows like seaquest and the old shows like that where like Rob was at Rob gave them rush night rush Snyder yeah from jaws yep there was an I saw him there he was on the show and all these kind of cool guys I used to work with behind the scenes just as an intern but that was kind of like the very beginning of it and then my first real job was working in a tape vault at a commercial production house back in the 90s
okay and so I back in the day I was a I would have been one of your best customers I used to spend a lot of time in the video store and you know the old $10 for for 1010 for 10 oh yeah if you if you get higher 10 videos then it’s a it’s a box I’d end up spending here’s the thing I used to what I used to do I don’t know if you still do this I still do this even on iTunes or Amazon or Netflix or what have you. I don’t want to know anything about the film what I want to do is I want the the cover the poster to kind of wash over me So back in the day and I’m like you know 1415 year old and I would just I would go through I actually remember watching Spinal Tap Yeah, and not getting and not realizing Spinal Tap was not real until until I saw probably the first drummer actually explode and I was like oh my god but the the the video stores that experience young people don’t get that that I loved going to the video store and just being able to browse to like poster after poster after poster. So yeah, it’s uh
but it was it but it was such a different time too because you know you walked into videos during you could arguably watch everything. Like I remember I used to watch everything that came out every week. So there would be four or five movies that would come out and my video store would get them and that would be it but now I mean I heard the stat that last year I think it was 26,000 hours of content was created which is three years of time was created last year. You can’t even begin to comprehend that and it’s only growing so there’s so much content being created. You can’t even
catch up too much as that has been shot on shitty, like it’s poor quality. I’ve heard I’ve heard some people say the quality of particularly in the commercial world the quality of video is not important. That’s the only people that say that aren’t filmmakers because I don’t know and I heard someone saying look at the look at the the, the commercial for for the iPhone that was shot on iPhone. And I’m like, dude, the
cinematographer who knew what the hell they were doing
I don’t think that that that spot cost more than a million bucks so you think about the story the production value the fact that it’s shot on an iPhone doesn’t mean quality videos not important it is in the commercial world it drives everything so I wonder two things how how niche down knows that you know 30,000 hours of content is not whether it is and the quality of it. Was there any stats around that?
No but but I think that number was that wasn’t YouTube that was like that was broadcast that was streaming services that was back all that content, films and things like that. So it is arguably good stuff. This is not commercial This is just streaming content. Yeah, on online and in movies and all that GitHub channel that’s not youtube youtube is a much larger number every minute that goes by you know as 1000 hours or something that goes up on the on the cloud so yeah, but that’s actually just content episodic content reality show content documentary series all that kind of stuff so it’s an obscene amount but back then you could actually conceive consume everything but now it’s it’s so impossible to do do i do i missed the video storm understand the distortion me does miss the video store manager but I but I do enjoy the conveniences of technology today to be able to just jump on and grab anything I wanted whenever I want is something that’s really nice to have as well. I mean, I did hate going to the video store and Oh, sorry, we’re out of that one. You know, all the new release. We’re out I’m sorry, you can’t get predator. But here’s conasauga like I don’t want to see cars. I know that’s a Roger Corman film I don’t want to see cartus or I want to see predator
yeah cool. So the the film school experience so you’ve gone through high school we shooting in high school so your way a little
bit a little bit I had a high eight camera that was given to me my grandpa and I’d shoot some videos here and there for class but it was Do you remember your You and I have similar vintages? So we there was no information about filmmaking back then we’re talking about the very early 90s mid a late 80s early 90s so the the occasional Indiana Jones making of documentary or the Star Wars making of documentary is what you would get there were no DVDs yet. I mean, for me, it was the Criterion Collection that was like the ultimate laser discs to get that kind of information. But there was not a lot of information in regards to filmmaking. So it wasn’t a thing it wasn’t a career that was not like now and like now it’s like like people want to get into the business it’s a business it’s a career path. It’s you know, certain things like that back then it wasn’t. So I just shot and I edited between VCRs sometimes I did the same Yeah, I’d edit in camera. So I was editing before I knew what editing was because I just was trained visually by watching so many movies over the course of my my time at the video store that and I was waiting to watch TV like crazy on watch. But I was always a fan of movies, but that’s when it really took everything up a notch. But I was just doing a lot of things by instinct and I when I got into the business, my entry level was editing. And I just found that I had a knack for being an editor.
And you so you started so this is like after after film school What was your major in film school? Did you were you there as I
didn’t have him? I mean, in my film school, it was full sail in Orlando. So it was it now it’s become much more respectable the film school back then it was just starting out. It was just the film and television program. So it wasn’t like I didn’t have an emphasis on directing or anything. I always knew I wanted to be a director. So and I just learned everything I wanted to learn about being a director. That was the thing I wanted to do. There was no question about it. That was the route I wanted to walk down the path I wanted to walk down. But film school for me was at that time, I learned I always I’d always tell that joke, I learned two really important skills one how to wrap a cable. So I learned how to wrap a proper cable and two how to make a cup of coffee. And those two skills got me a probably a few jobs. But other than that the technology I was right caught in the middle of the technology shift to the digital revolution. So nonlinear editing was I barely touched it. I ended it on a montage, running Windows 311 then took a floppy disk and walked it over to the CMS 3600 and then try to you know, paste together this EDL off with me is never work. It was just so I learned all of that stuff. I worked on Grass Valley, CMS 330 600 all those kind of old systems. But when I finally came out When I got my job at that commercial production house next door to me, in my office was an avid editing system. And that’s why I went and got certified. I paid the 700 bucks to get myself certified over a weekend. And then I just started practicing. And then within nine months of me getting that first job, I quit and became a freelancer.
Cool. Okay, and so from there. So what, what, what kind of time frame is this? This is mid 9797.
Okay, because that was really I mean, things are still even to this day. I mean, we’re going to talk a little bit about the whole, the entrepreneurial filmmaker type type thing, and the changes that I can hasn’t slowed down and sped up. But I reckon around that time 95 to kind of the 2000 that’s when we started to see a lot of like, change started really happen before? No,
it was accelerated. Yeah, before that. The film industry pretty much stayed the same. Yeah, for 80 years. Yeah. And then in the 80s, VHS showed up, and Betamax showed up. So that started shifting things. And then the business model started shifting and that technology didn’t really change. I mean, there was it was film film, the workflow of film was pretty much the same for decades. Yeah, you know, there was the lenses got better film stocks got better, cameras got better. But the technology was essentially the same, it was running celluloid through it, then we got the steady cam, which was a very big upgrade, you know, then the techno crane years later, and things like that. But the technology essentially stayed the same to capture the image, then the digital revolution happened when mini DV showed up. That’s when everything started to shift, I felt when when mini DV showed up in nonlinear editing showed up, that’s when everything started to accelerate very, very quickly. And for me, you know, I was an avid editor for a long time, but then I just realized I could not open up a shop as an avid editor because it cost half a million bucks to get a damn avitus machine at the time. So like, I was insane, it was insane. Because I haven’t had a stranglehold on on the business. And you know how that the only reason that by the way, the only reason I have is still around is because of the studios. Yeah, it’s the only reason because they have deals with all the studios and all those Abbott’s are still in the studios and commercial houses and a lot of the Union energies are just used to using abit and it’s just this kind of like well we got to use them but but there’s much better tools out there that much more affordable and it’s a slow change in regards to that but for me Final Cut Pro is what opened the door for me because then I was able to buy my own system and I still remember I had a part A friend of mine who had an editing system next door to me in the place in the studio was renting and I had a final QA system and I was paid off within a month I paid it off within a month after a few gigs and he was still in the whole 60 grand he was paying it off like for years and it was like I’m like I’m I’m working I had huge accounts for like visa Latin America and Sony and I was doing all sorts of commercial and commercial work back there in Miami but the world started to shift around that time and then it just got into it just kicked into high gear probably I’m going to say the as soon as the red showed up that the red one Yeah, yeah the red one that blew everything out of the water because it was such a monolithic jump in resolution and technology and everything that it just knocked everybody out of the water and there’s so many other technologies there’s the two the two paths the creating of the of the product and the distribution of the product and how the consumer consumes it those two things shifted dramatically arguably the way people consume that shift earlier than the technology to make it because VHS showed up and then that whole world started happening and and then it then finally now we’re at the point where the distribution has expanded its blew away past the capturing of creating of it. So now that technology to actually consume the content that we’re creating is far superior or at least farther advanced than the capturing of it because it’s slowed down I don’t know that’s just my opinion. But I feel that the technology is now we’re just at a point where like 8k 10k
yeah 12 get like that’s it don’t have ranges is better.
Yeah that that technology is good.
Yeah. So that’s that’s kind of the iteration on something that’s already working. I reckon the read for me and maybe this is you know, my background is probably a little bit more commercial and yours is maybe leaning more towards the the the indie stuff. The red one there was shifts no doubt but it was the the the Canon five day mark to that was the thing that changed? Oh, yeah. The Wrestler like, Oh, yeah, that just that’s, I mean in a good way. And it also in a really bad way and budgets just took a dive, but it wasn’t. It was this kind of perfect storm between the Chinese manufacturing getting better. The Oh, the Oh 809 crash, and the camera all kind of coinciding for this, this perfect storm, where for the next five or six years the commercial space just completely changed and budgets when I had to make the shot. A bank commercial here in Australia recently 10 years ago, that commercial was 1.5 mil. This time $150,000 for a bank. A company doesn’t want to spend more than 150 grand on a television commercials like what
I remember in Miami working on music videos that had budgets from second and third tier artists. So not the main artists but the second or third tier artists with four or $500,000 budgets. Yeah, what’s like second tier hardest I had maybe one hit under their belt. were blowing just obscene amounts of money. Yeah, on them. And then now for for music video, if you get 500 bucks is insane. And I started seeing that shift on a business standpoint, because I ran a post house, I started seeing the change. So I started to migrate from just editing, which was the bread and butter and then I would direct commercials and things like that as those gigs came but what you know kept food on the table all the time was post. So I would edit I was finding out editor and then everybody when Final Cut showed up, everybody got it. Everybody was an editor all of a sudden, kind of like when the red one showed up, everyone was a dpl Yeah. So then I started shifting to color. So then I started color grading because that’s still the high higher barrier of entry for cost. And also just, you know, skill skill level, you have to be a little bit more skillful to be a colorist. So then as I jumped into that, and I did that about 1213 years ago, right before I came out to LA, and then from there, I jumped into post supervision, then I jumped into online editorial, then I jumped into VFX supervision, then I started packaging it all together, just to compete. So I was always trying to stay one a bit ahead of everybody else by being able to create packages and sell myself that’s why my IMDB page is stupid, because it has so many credits because I did everything and I would do if I’m not doing one thing I was doing another thing I was doing this thing I was I was constantly hustling.
She was gonna say say always been misty film, Mr. indie film hustle.
Oh, since I was, I think I think I was doing garage sales at 1010 or 11. I was doing garage sales every week. So I would when I ran out of all my own stuff, I would go to all my my relatives and I would ask them, Hey, do you got any stuff you want to get rid of. And then I would take all their junk, and I’ll put it out and I would sell it and I would be the only kid in school with 150 bucks in his pocket, you know, and like that was huge when you’re 10 or 12 to buy whatever I want and I would go buy baseball cards or Garbage Pail Kids or comic books or something like that. But I was hustling. Oh man, since it was just I came programmed from the factory like that.
So what you were taught? Yeah, totally. Um so what are you doing with this kind of post stuff you’re you’re directing aspirations and skill Yes, you’re developing that at the
commercials Yeah, yeah, commercial work doing mostly commercial work because that’s what I knew I didn’t know you know, I was in Miami in the nine there’s no indie film that indie film was a thing for us so I was commercials a music video commercials music videos that’s kind of where you know my first demo reel cost me 50 grand to do like three or four spec spots because I shot 35 because I had to shoot 35 because I was going after big you know big clients you had to prove that you could do it so yeah, you know I still remember those those spots. fondly so I’ve shot every format from Super eight to 35 never shot IMAX or 70 but I shot the other the other other formats. But yeah, that’s what I was doing most of the commercial I didn’t go into indie film. And you know the whole my whole story with my first book shooting for the mob where I almost made a $20 million movie for the mafia and I flew out to Hollywood and all that stuff. That was when I was 26. So I was really young at that point, but I had already been directing commercials and music videos and things like that at that point. I didn’t do my first real indie until 2005 or four when I finally released my first short film, my independent for sure film and that was kind of my entry point to independent film as far as a shot digitally or still on the Oh yeah, we shot it was shot on Panasonic dv x 100 day, one of my favorite cameras
with the time with the adapter, the adapter board. Yeah, of course. Of course the lettuce, lettuce lift Is something
no not the adapter for cinema lenses. I actually didn’t i didn’t have that adapter, I actually just got the wide angle adapter that you screwed on on the lens, the wide angle lens to screw on. So I just wanted to have more, more of a more production value by creating that. I had other people who had that adapter and if you didn’t, if you didn’t do it right, you didn’t plug it in, right? You get a little, little what you see the mirror in the image. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I had to deal with that on a feature that that I did post on I’m like, you guys didn’t know what to do. But I shout out the DVS 100 A I edited in Final Cut version four. I call it graded it and final copy using plugins. And I used remastered I did and then between those two things, I was able to come up with a really interesting look, probably took the dv x farther than anybody else had at that point because no one else had taken it seriously as a serious storytelling machine at that point. And combining with everything. And I pulled out my DVD, a garage, a gorilla film school on how to make it and no one had made a product like that before and sold 5000 DVDs of it for a short film. And you know, it kind of went from there. But I was all shot digitally back in the day still. And I’m still making money with that film today.
Yeah, cool. So the I had a question for you, which I’m now just vague on and it was related to that. Here’s the question. So I’m not sure if you wanted to talk about this or not the whole greenlight project. Yeah, so was that was was that before or after that? After? After what the after what the movie? So yeah, that was the movie come before greenlight project, but
both both of those things were after. So the mob movie and the short film were after a project that came after like a couple I think a year or two after
Okay, you want to you want to talk about that because it’s kind of it’s it’s a
I mean, it was fun. I mean, it was fun. I mean, I you know, it was it was season two, I was able to I got to like the top 20 I think and it was off to offer my short film broken that little short film I sent in. So I got pretty far in it because I had to do was
in like 20 the top 20 I that’s Yeah, it was
it was pretty It was pretty huge at the time. And I did that little opening like I did this video which you saw online. I don’t know why I put it up but I decided to put it up to show people how ridiculous I was back then. And they took a clip of it and they put it in the opening of the of the show. So I actually remember getting phone calls after it aired on HBO from friends like Dude, you were just on HBO like what did they because it was a big it was a huge deal back then. I’m so glad I never got on the show it was a complete calamity. It was just reality show. So it was it was it was a bad experience. I’m so glad I’d never got on it. But you know, I got all the way through. And then I did it again a few years later with on the lot with which was a Steven Spielberg show on trying to get on the line, which is another reality show. It’s kind of like this big kind of American Idol style show for filmmakers. And I got to the top 20 of that as well. And I didn’t get into it. And Funny enough, one of my dearest friends was the cinematographer who I worked with in some prior jobs. He was a cinematographer, on further on the lot so it would have been amazing if I would have gotten on but now after that when I just said I’m done with reality shows,
has anyone added Has anyone done anything out of those shows?
No, I think a couple of those guys work you know, they just work behind the scenes. No one’s done anything of any major magnitude. Some guys are just they still work and they still do stuff but I mean, man, it just it was just a reality show man it’s Yeah, gallery show.
Yeah, it really is.
How many how many American idols are like doing things now? Like it’s the same thing. There’s no there’s Kelly Clarkson. There’s like two or three others and that’s it. That’s it. Like there’s not there’s not a handful. It’s a handful of them.
Over the course Kelly Kelly Clarkson probably would have been found at some point anyway, because she’s that good ROM.
Probably Yeah, absolutely. And you know, what’s her name? The country star and there was another rock star. There’s a handful of those guys that kind of blew out of there. But there’s you could count on one or two hands? Yeah. Out of all of those people that got that finished. So it’s a reality show at the end of the day. It’s a reality show. Yeah.
So from that into so you moved to LA it’s 11 years ago. Okay. And then what happened next,
I landed in LA and I woke up to the jungle, right? I just hear that jungle man. Welcome to the Jungle and I was thrown into it. But I was lucky. I was extremely lucky because I opened up my editing suite in my second bedroom, in North Hollywood here and
I started in my bedroom.
If we that was planned my wife and I had one bedroom and the other bedroom was built out as a suite and I just started working the second I landed I had a job which just happened to land that day, the week before I moved and I just started working and then the crisis the economic crisis hit and but I just kept cooking I just kept working very I was very very lucky very blessed that I just kept working during all that time
and digital commercials
no I was already in the indie world at that point I was getting I didn’t music videos. At that point I shifted from commercial work to mostly music video at that time in my career was mostly music video, independent film either shorts or features and then I would also be doing the effects work as well a lot of color grading work I started to I stopped doing editing for clients because I just I can’t take it it’s like it didn’t make any financial sense and it was just a waste of time and a lot of egos and a lot of crap. So I would rather call her for four days and get paid the same depth of editing for two months on a feature general it’s not commercial rates commercial rates were a little bit better but when you’re dealing a feature you got to give him like an eight week rate and it just became a little bit didn’t make a lot of sense to do that much time.
The coloring is the one thing I’ve never been able to do is when I if I’ve got jobs where it’s a kind of low budget type of thing and there’s I’ll do a lot of the work and then you can always say when clock stamp has been on the color that it’s not good So you mentioned before that it is a it’s a there’s a lot of skill and coloring and absolutely there is yeah you know I was just technical there’s something special that coloring I was
lucky I was able to do it it was like editing I just kind of had a knack for it and you know I added I call a gritted broken my first short film off of like a television tube that’s not calibrated or anything it was just like I didn’t know any better but it worked you know it was all consistent you know thank God that TV was somewhat calibrated apparently so I just kind of learned how to do it and I taught myself how to do it was never properly trained how to calibrate and then I don’t know I’ve got to go to
it later Yeah, I
decided that’s that that talent and skill talent and skill like something like that it’s very difficult to teach color grading to be you can be prolific in the the technical aspects of things on the board and you could check your your your know, your scopes, you can do your scopes and stuff like that, you know for a lot a lot of times I rarely used I rarely use scopes
you know I did my coloring maybe that’s my problem. No, I
rarely I rarely use scopes because I just had it my I was just kind of trained for it so just you know and other DPS would walk in Why don’t you have your scopes up? I’m like does it look pretty? Is it matching? Yeah, shut the fuck up you know stuff you know come on. So um, yeah, it but I was very I enjoy coloring. I still enjoy coloring to this day. I don’t do it anymore. for clients. I only do it for my own projects. But anytime like I have to sit down and color grade a product like I haven’t color graded something in probably a year and a half. And when I sit down and start doing is kind of like an old friend. I’m like, Oh, okay. This is fun, especially if you have good footage.
Yeah, I really like coloring as well just really crap at it. When I fast moments later I call it that and it’s I had to hand it over to someone else is like this is as good as I can get, you know, here’s the files please help. But I really I really enjoyed it. There’s just something you know, shooting in log and then dropping a lot and then you know luminance value. Oh, it’s just something really quite special. I was actually gonna release that as black and white, which looked amazing. But was told not to. Film Festivals don’t like it. So don’t turn it back into color was what I was told. So which I ended up by
I could have a conversation about film festivals. I could you know, that’s the conversation.
You’ve got a you got a course on film festivals and you got a book as well. I think at some point I downloaded downloaded that so do we’re only onto the we’ve only gone through the we haven’t even gone up to now. We’re still only on the first question. So let’s get to the second question which will be a segue into what you’re doing now. And so that’s because that’s the reason why I brought you on the program. sides anything that we spoke about before we started we hit record and all that stuff. Here’s the reason why I brought you on. The show is called next level filmmaker and I think what you’re doing is next level so that was the reason why. And for me being a broke filmmaker or being successful The difference is not is I mean you have to have good work. If you if you work Cuz crap, you don’t get to play the game. But the difference, there’s a lot of good filmmakers out there a lot. The difference between those that are doing well and not comes down to strategy. And so what I see you doing is very much that that you really understand and clearly from when you’re a kid, you got it. And so being able to bring those two worlds together is really the reason why here So this question is so long last question, everyone gets confused because it’s too many fucking words, I need to I need to kind of hard boil the pros down to something more pithy, but it goes like chisel chisel it down. I’ll do it one day, but I want to do it for this. So what’s the one unique or even strange thing that you have done or that you do? Do that English that you do, that has been the biggest contributor to your success. so far?
The biggest, the biggest thing I’ve done that contributed to my success is the second I started being of service to other people. The second I started to be of service to my community, through indie film, hustle. And through all the other companies that I run through, through my, through my company, that I’ve discovered that helping someone else, get to their dream, helps you get to yours
in a dream in a genuine way, not the internet, not
in a scammy not a scammy way, you know, when people listen to me, you know, I have you know, I have a popular podcast as well called indie film, hustle. And when you listen to me, I’m not that good of an actor. You know, I’ll trust me when you see my my new film coming out next year. I act in it is I’m sorry, but I played myself. So which is even worse. I couldn’t even act like myself properly. At least that’s what I my own opinion of myself. So I’ll cut myself I cut myself out as much as humanly possible, just barely enough to get me in there. But I’m not that I’m not an actor. So you can hear it in my voice when I talked to, to you or to anybody about what I do. I’m very passionate about it. I get very emotional about I get angry about it sometimes, if you hear some of my podcasts that are my tough love episodes where I just literally rip into the listeners in a good loving way. Yeah. And that’s what
I like about you, man. That’s what I like about is that passion. You saw a little bit of my passion as well, before we’re here court. So I totally get that being of service, though, like how does that if that’s the one unique thing that still doesn’t really kind of, you can’t translate that into figures into dollars. And without cash flow, you’ve got no business, which means you can’t be of service. So is there
that can you translate that into dollars because I run my entire business based on that. So I’ve developed an entire business around being of service to a community. So you know, it’s not revolutionary. The idea it’s, it’s it’s an online business model where you find a niche audience where you can be of service to them, you provide value to them. And then money comes whether in many different ways of building that business through multiple different ways, which we don’t have to talk about at the moment. But there’s multiple ways of generating revenue while you’re still providing a service to people. I give away 95% of what I do, you know, and I charged for about 5% of it, if not less, which is something I have to work on. But I give away a lot of a lot of stuff that I that I do. Because I truly want to help you know I mean, yeah, my there’s a there’s podcasts that charge for
Yeah, totally. business works that way. My my, my wife bought sourdough yesterday. Delicious sourdough. So we’re having yesterday morning, we’re having sourdough for breakfast. And she said, isn’t it incredible that someone woke up probably four hours before we’re eating this now and worked to make this bread. And then another person got up, maybe an hour later, she drives a truck, put the bread in the truck, drove it to the bakery, and we were able to now be enjoying this like that is service. That’s how business works. So you have to find this balance between obviously you have to provide a service and you have to give value like people I’m not going to buy or the wife’s not going to buy good quality sourdough, unless it actually is good quality sourdough, right so you can’t pass off a poor
you made market you mean you can’t market or scam somebody into saying this is the best sourdough but when you buy it, you’re like this is horrible. But no, no, no really. Look at the packaging. Look how beautiful it is. And once nor that there’s, I wish it works for a little bit for a minute or two. Yeah,
yeah. So but without the marketing, there is no sales. Right? It has to be it’s not chicken and egg like the the there has to be an offer. Well, it has to be both it has to be valuable. And then there has to be strategy behind that as well. Which I think a good part of what you do is really understanding the strategy behind what you’re doing. Is that Correct.
Yeah, without question. I mean, I’ve been doing what I do now for about four and a half years. And I’ve seen a lot of people in my space come and go, you know, because it’s hard. It’s not easy. If you’re in it for the money, you’re gonna be sorely mistaken in the niche of independent filmmaking. It is a passionate project is a passionate niche. And I always tell people that independent filmmakers are the most cynical customer base on the planet because they’re abused from the moment they walk into a film school, you know, or abuse the moment they walk onto a set in one way, shape, or form. They’re either being taken advantage of, they’re being scammed they’re being also it’s just the way the nature of the business is, unfortunately. So they smell crap really quickly, you know, very, very quickly in and that’s why kind of when I showed up, there was other people had podcasts. When I showed up. There was a half I’m friends with most of them. But I showed up out of nowhere, and I started from literally zero, like I’d been out of the business. I was selling olive oil, which is another car really day. Yeah, I was I was I had my own shop for about two or three years with my
magic. I’m glad you come back. Amen.
Yeah, so I was I always had a foot and I always like to do an occasional post job or, or occasional directing job during that time. But I’d been burnt out on the business. But when I showed up, I all my accounts started at zero. So no one knew who I was. I wasn’t leveraging anything, I’d literally just came out and started to grind and grind hard. And it was obscene. How, how much how much content that was able to put out in such a short period of time. And then all of a sudden, I was everywhere, because that was just what I was doing. I was just providing a lot of content. I was putting a lot of value. And people were like, where’d this guy come from? And then when they do any little bit of research on me, they’re like, Oh, this guy’s been around. He’s not just he didn’t just show up. He and like, and they go to my IMDB page, they go to my website, they’re like, this guy’s got some stuff. He’s got street cred. I call it street credibility. And I realized that there wasn’t a lot of people in my space. At the time, that had street cred that were actual filmmakers who had have shrapnel, we’ve gone through what I’ve gone through. There was there were a lot of people talking about it. And there were a lot of people that were like, you know, I just got in, let’s walk together. That’s all fine and dandy. And that’s definitely there’s nothing wrong with it. But I just felt that there needed to be some real raw truth about the business, not a watered down version from someone who doesn’t really know who hasn’t walked the walk, who hasn’t taken that those those that shrapnel and I showed up and I started giving that real raw truth, but with a lot of motivation, a lot of nurturing as well. So it’s a combination of like, I punchy, but then I hug you then I punch you then I hug punch you. Yeah, because you need that because this business is mostly stick. You know, it is brutal. It is a brutal industry. And then it’s Highland here, it is changing. But I come from a perspective now being in Hollywood for over a decade. So it’s really rough here. Like I believe most of my career was outside, I was on the East Coast of the United States where I was in Miami. It’s a completely different world there. When you’re in LA, it’s everything is heightened, like tenfold, I realized that within the first year, the first year that I was here, I learned more than probably the last five years in Miami. Because of the caliber of people I was working with the caliber of projects I got access to, I was able to just my tools started building up in my toolbox so much more. It’s just more at such a rapid clip. Because of being in a place like la there really isn’t anywhere else. Like la in the world really for what
do you agree with that?
It says a concentration of people and everyone’s trying to get in everyone’s trying to get to where they want to get to and hustle and hustle. So if you make it here, you can make it anywhere, honestly, is what I truly believe. But especially for this industry. But that’s what I came in. I came in guns blaring and I really haven’t let off the gas since then. And you know and I had a lot of people try to come in and and do it and I don’t like as we were talking earlier, I don’t really see competition. I see what other people do I see other people try to copy what I do and or try to do you know, try to figure out how I’m doing something or how I’m making a living or how am I generating my revenue. I just do me man and I just I really just focus on the end user I focus on my tribe and being of service to that tribe in any way shape or form I can and everything else kind of works itself out that’s that’s my experience so far.
Cool. So the was there like an epiphany moment where you went you He said, What’s the one thing is really just adding value, which is a mindset. So rather than, rather than trying to take money from people in order to give them something, it’s more, I’m going to give you something and then the money will come. That’s kind of what you said, right? It’s it can be a very scary place to be. Because without cash flow, you know, there is no business. There’s no way of being able to give service. But you’re right. I totally agree with you. Was there a moment because I remember my moment, was there a moment when you went? I like there was, is there a moment where there was that switch? Or have you always been that way?
Um, no, I mean, when I walked into doing indie film, hustle, it was a business. This is an online business. You know, I read the book four hour workweek by Tim Ferriss, and that kind of set me down the path. And I read Gary V’s book, Seth Godin books and, and then I just went down and I absorbed for nine months, while I was still selling olive oil, I was reading, I was listening to Pat Flynn, I was listening to I know online marketing, mastery, all these I was listening to everybody absorbing everything I could about the business side of things. And when I launched and launched as a business, and I still am a business, but just who I am, I’m not a person who is going to try, I can’t scam you, I don’t like doing that. It’s not it’s in genuine, it’s not what I stand for. It’s not what I do. So by the nature of who I was, even subconsciously, I just started being myself, I started being a value instantly. The big difference was that I had a business to support this business before this business supported me. Yeah. And that was the thing I always tell people like, you know, I want to be a writer, I want to be a filmmaker, I’m like, great, get a job in the business, you need something that’s going to put food on the table, because the dream is going to take time to build, and you should be gaining skills for that dream while you’re making money. If it’s not the dream itself. So screenwriters should be writing, selling the writing, taking writing gigs, doing and create a business around writing, if that’s what you want to do. And I did the same thing. I mean, I always had post post is always been my, my baseline. So I always had post, I could always make money, I could always generate revenue. And it was never a problem for me. Throughout my throughout my career. So when I launched indie film, hustle, it was just, I just started and, you know, I had some spikes, but my baseline was still not enough to, you know, live in LA, with a family. And you know, and pay the bills. It just didn’t make sense at that time. So about two and a half years in, is when I turned around, and I looked at my wife, I said, I think I don’t have to do post anymore. And she’s like, I don’t think you have to do either. I’ve seen the numbers, we can make this go. And at that point, I made the switch. I’m like, Okay, great. Now I could just put all my energy into indie film, hustle, and being of service to my community and building, building a business around that. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last two years. And it’s man, it’s wonderful. It’s wonderful man, I’m living the dream, where the sense that I can create the art that I want to create, I can help people doing that I can make I’m helping, I’m making money by helping people and educating people, inspiring people, and motivating people, that I’m also able to create my own art without any interference from anybody. And I get to do that on a daily basis. It’s, it’s the dream, I don’t need to be a millionaire.
I fame and I’m the same with next level filmmaker program. It’s the same thing that the, I say to the the guys and girls in the program that the this is not about the money, the money needs to be there for me to be able to give me give you my time. What this is actually about is helping people transform. So one of the things that that, that I say to people that want to be in the indie world, if you can start your own video production agency, production company, pop advertising agency, you get to be super creative, create good little videos, you get to write, you get to shoot, you get to edit, you get to distribute, you learn the business side, and you learn the art. And you can do it in a way where you’re providing service to business, you’re able to get better at your skills. So teaching people how to do that. There is something I was actually surprised when I first started teaching. It’s not something that I necessarily wanted to go into if I’m completely honest. But that was something that was kind of pushing me in that direction. And I think for me, the the the idea of passive income, which is a complete lie, but scedule income is residual income. residual income is real. That thing that’s what I was trying to create. But what came out of that is the relationships that I that I built through it. And that filmmakers inside the program and I’m sure it’s the same with your community. There’s filmmakers inside your community as there are in mind who start working with each other. I Just to kind of Skylark a little bit, I had one student I won’t name names that I want, say figures, but I’ll say it’s to a, an Emmy Award winning filmmaker who’s in the program was. So he was hired or brought in on a pitch for a job with another club, another student of the program. And the should be okay. If I say the numbers. It’s a $300,000 job. Now, that could only have happened if these two guys come together. So that’s all about collaboration. So that feeling of empowerment that we’re able to bring to other people. There’s no money can’t buy that. That Absolutely. That is something that is it’s without any sounding words, almost spiritual, like giving bad is
someone that’s almost spiritual, it is spiritual.
Yeah, yeah. Well, the dude that I’m telling you about when he first joined the program, had cashflow problems, he could hardly get into the program. And now he’s doing multi, you know, six figure deals for one client for one job, it’s that that mean, that’s the reason why the passion o’clock he saw before we hit record, that’s the reason why, because being able to transform other people’s lives is something that I will fight for. Because I’m a filmmaker, and I have a responsibility to other filmmakers. And I also have a passion to look after other filmmakers. Because you and me are the same. At some level, I mean, you know, all of us are at the same at some level. Now I’m starting to feel like I’m teaching which this is not about me, man, this is about you. So I’ll pull back. And I lost the third question. So I love your answer. I did want to I wanted you to talk about your upcoming book at some point. But before that, let’s talk about the third question which is what are you doing to sustain your career your business on a daily basis
for me at this point is providing more and more service by creating different product lines, different podcast, different websites, different companies to start growing the the reach that I have, and you know, where, when I launched first, I launched indie film, hustlers podcast and website then I launched the bulletproof screenwriting podcast, which is focused more on filmmakers and screenwriters, opened up multiple services and companies around that, that I just launched film shoprunner as a podcast, website, and book and all that concepts have focused more on the business side of filmmaking, the entrepreneurial business side of filmmaking, then I have indie film, hustle TV, which is a streaming service, which is basically education, of the entire process of from micro budget, to cinematography, to screenwriting, to distribution, everything is all in there, plus you get movies and other things like that in there as well. So it’s a very unique product in itself. So I’m just constantly trying to figure out other ways to grow the reach that I’m able to do and, and start to build out the team that I need to build out to support all that because I am getting I’m already there, I’ve been there probably for a year I’ve reached I’ve reached maximum Alex Yeah, there’s there’s only so much of me to go around, there’s only so much I can do in a 10 hour period.
So that is the 10 hours is slacking off my 10 hours, I actually so I just say I’m just teasing you,
I used to work like 18 hours, but then my wife stopped me because she’s like, you need balance. And I have a you know, I clock out at six, but I, I also wake up at four o’clock in the morning. So you know, and I’m working out and I you know, I I say 10 hours, but it’s more like 12 or 15. But I still I still have time with my family and still send them to school, I still, you know, have dinner and all that kind of good stuff. So I clock out at a certain time for most most days. So that that spreading of my influence, or at least the message that I’m trying to get out is my my goal and what actually keeps everything running. You know, I love podcasting it is. It is extremely powerful. One of the more powerful mediums to connect with an audience. I don’t get to see it often because I’m just basically myself in a microphone. Or if I’m talking to a guest like I’m talking to you on a Skype or zoom call. That’s interesting. But when I go out into public and I get recognized at events or things like that, and you start seeing the the actual impact that you’re making, that’s addictive as all hell like I was just at AFM at the American Film market here last week. I was there for four days. And I was I mean it was it was crazy. I was being you know, it was really being it was recognized a lot. I was having a lot of conversations. I was helped you know, and it’s not Like, can I get a picture with you? I’m not that kind of dude. I’m the Can you help me with my movie? Can you give me a consulting right now I’m like, sure. And I would help everybody and I would try to help as much as I can. So I ended up basically just being there giving of myself for four days, it was actually a really exhausting time. But it was so exhilarating because I love doing and I would like to look out like, Who else can I talk to who? What can I do? How can I help it, it was just addictive. So that is honestly the key to any success I have is the ability to, to keep being of service and trying to figure out more and more ways to be of service to my community.
Yeah. Cool. So Excuse me, do you want to you want to tell us about your your new book?
Yeah, absolutely. The new book is called Rise of the film shoprunner, how to make your how to turn your independent film into a money making business. And I launched this, this whole new company around the book, because I felt that there wasn’t anyone talking about the business side of filmmaking in the way that I was teaching the way I was going to teach it, which is the entrepreneurial way of of being a filmmaker. I truly personally believe that the only future that exists for the micro budget $500,000 below budget films, with exceptions, of course, they’ll always be exceptions, they’ll always be outliers. But generally speaking, is going to be entrepreneurial filmmaking, or being a film shoprunner there is no other model. That makes sense, because the distribution models are changing so rapidly, the money is drying up. It’s not what it used to be, I was just at AFM. And I saw these distributors just freaking out because they, what they what they had the pillars that they had with DVD sales, foreign sales, there were things that they could hold to hang their hat on that like, Oh, I know, I’ll be able to make X dollars. If I put a cool poster and a trailer up, those days are gone. There is no real DVD market anymore. It’s it’s collapsed. So what happened in the publishing business, and then what happened in the music industry is now affecting us. We’re and now the, the return on investment is dropping and dropping and dropping the amount of money that you can generate from just exploiting the film is dropping to almost nothing, just like it did for musicians, and with songs. And the same things happening for films independent films, specifically, because it’s just too much competition out there. So now you’re being paid six to 10 cents an hour of viewing, you know, we talking about six to 10 cents for some basically someone watching a movie. So what used to cost 399 499 to rent, our buy it for 999 on streaming is now people are getting it for a dime, or 15 cents for a whole movie. You know what I mean? So the models changed, everything’s changed, can you still make money with that model? Absolutely. Depends on how you position it, what platforms you’re on how you how you diversify the platforms you’re with, what kind of distribution Do you get, if you get a distribution deal, if you want, it goes down to self distribution, there’s multiple ways of making that work. But the but the world is changing. So so much and so rapidly, that the only way a filmmaker is going to make it in my opinion, regardless if you buy my book or not, is going to be entrepreneurial filmmaking, where you are generating revenue from ancillary products, and ancillary services based around your film. And that’s by cultivating a niche audience and creating a niche product and selling it to that audience. And no matter what the technology that comes down the line is what is evergreen will always be finding an audience building a product for that audience. I don’t care how the distribution, I don’t care what the technology is, that will always be the way to go. And I truly believe that niche is the only thing that can really cut through all the marketing of Hollywood and a big studio. So if you’re so is there something that you’re that is a hobby of yours, something that you’re passionate about, that’s outside of movies?
I guess car racing, okay, great.
So if I saw I have I have a theory about niching, though, which I’d love to chat to you about. So if you if we want to just keep kind of riffing on what because yeah, my I want to hear your theory. The way that the way that I look at it, it’ll be interesting. For me core values and niching are closely aligned. So niching is not like a what I call an occupational vertical. So no, we can we can chat about this another time perhaps. But um,
so I was saying so you’d like car racing, right? So if you’re scanning through Netflix, or scanning through Amazon or scanning through wherever you watch your films, and you see a documentary on car racing or movie about car racing, about the kind of car racing you like, all of a sudden, all the big studio movies all the everything just kind of parts the CS part. Because now your interest, your passion will cut through all of that and you go, that’s the first thing I’m gonna watch.
Not necessarily. And that’s that’s why I say here’s the thing, it has to also align to my core values. So for instance, Ford and Ford and Ferrari or whatever that is, yeah, I will probably I don’t know if I will watch it. But I had a student who shot a Netflix film. and gentlemen drive as it’s called. So one of my students in the in the program was a producer, one of the and I think she also was one of the shooters on that documentary. So even when I spoke to her, she wasn’t even a student yet, I went directly from my office, the studio here, up to my home theater. So I got a 20 foot home theater screen. And I turned it on, I went and watch the film in the middle of the day, because it was it is so yeah, it’s kind of a nuanced, but niching niching is really important. Everyone does it. I think even the big studios still do it. But the way they define the way, the way someone needs to define a niche needs to evolve to include. It’s almost like a niche within a niche. So I won’t watch any movie that’s about car racing,
that I know has to be it has to it has to be specific. So it’s like, you know, when you watch a movie, if you’re a vegan, would you watch a vegan movie about vegans? Or will you watch a movie about plant based diets? Would you watch a movie about vegetarianism, like, it’s like, it has to be niche, and you have a better chance so but basically, my car racing movie has a better chance of grabbing your attention. Then I non car racing movies, what my goal, like my thing is, and people interested whenever, whenever that is with a surfing or skateboarding or whatever the niche might be. And it’s also about niching down to a certain point, because you can go super niche, and that that super niche won’t be able to justify the budget or the or the or the ancillary products or things like that. So it’s a balancing act of like, you know, like I use an example of my book like, Oh, I’m gonna do comic books. People are interested it’s too broad, way too broad. So like, Okay, I’m going to niche down to people who do cosplay, you know, and like, oh people who dress up at Comic Cons. Okay, well that’s a little bit more niche still pretty broad wide. And then you’re like, well, maybe I’m going to niche down to people who dress like Moon Knight from Marvel Comics. Like
you got you’ve got to find no idea who that is. So you’ve lost a moon
Exactly. So Moon Knight is if you you’ll know about him in about two years when the show comes on Disney plus, but but Moon Knight is an obscure character in the Marvel Universe. I’m a comic book geek so I know who he is. What I’d like go out of my way to watch something that was his eye maybe watch an episode or something like that but it’s not going to cut through all the other stuff and I’m not I’m not passionate enough about it. It’s too niche. It won’t support anything that that small or basket weaving like I want to make an epic $500,000 movie about basket weaving because that basket Weaver’s out there like that, that niche is not going to support that movie. So it has to align at certain levels of like what what does that audience want? How does How do they consume their content is another big thing so like core people who love whore love physical media, they love VHS they love DVDs blu rays and merge that’s that’s part of the the culture whereas gamers are they have their own way of the way they consume stuff. If you’re if you have a movie with a YouTube star, do you think DVDs are a smart idea? Probably not. Because their audience is used to getting things for free so you have to figure out a different business model for that. There’s there’s a lot of different moving parts but the book really does break down all of these different breaks down all the different ways that you can make money and generate revenue from these niche audiences. Is it our friend? No. Okay, no, no, it’s my it’s my it’s my wife.
I totally agree with you. I’ve got a something and I don’t know if you can type and here at the same time, but I’ll keep talking just so we can chat for time and I can cut this bit out as well. Okay, but it’s not about me. I’m the so i’m i’ve got a feature that I’m kind of in production. And very much the first part about it is really trying to work out what the niches and this is the way that I would work out and this is actually going to be a movie about musicians, and specifically about young musicians trying to break in. So it’s about a young indie filmmaker, sorry, young indie musician, who is just hell bent on the art and wants to push away any kind of business whatsoever. Because of that he can’t make it he’s a bit of an asshole. So no one wants to deal with him. He can’t get gigs but he’s just a brilliant musician. The arc is that he realizes that in order to play music, and be This wonderful musician, he can’t push away business he has to actually, you know, allow strategy to inform him, but he doesn’t have to become an internet marketer type do and so that as an example means that he has to go on social media so part of the narrative is he pushes away any kind of social media whatsoever so he’s pushing away his audience the arc is that he needs to bring people in. And so he he eventually does and then there’s you know, the last shot is him walking out on stage, kind of walk the first shot in stars bowl when Bradley Cooper walks on stage, and there’s the crowd so I can I could get that that shot pretty easily just by with contacts already have by using their their pre existing audience and getting the actor to walk out on stage with a holding time, we just kind of walk behind him. So what we then do is we target musicians that are just like the character in the film. And we sell them on the back end, a program about how to leverage social media, how to run Facebook ads, how to do all of that kind of jazz. So the niche is actually the niches about core values and the niches about and you said this, you said What did I want? I think at the end of the day, that’s the really really important thing if you can find if you can find a niche where the aesthetic of the movie whether it’s horror, whether it’s art house, I like our house, and specifically dark and moody so Wonka, why is his Malick new garage along the Turkish director, they in their mind, they’re both Mavericks and beautiful filmmakers. Malik’s you know, it’s cliche to say that you like him, but not many people heard of new Bill agilon, you won the Palme d’Or with when asleep three years ago. Sure. So if you can marry a personal transformation that’s embedded in the narrative of the film with an audience’s narrative what they want, and also the kind of the core values and the aesthetic of the film, also play into that audience, then you’re niching down via visuals, the storytelling, and you’re also then what they’re buying into is a narrative. And that’s the reason why I said I would watch I would watch the gentleman’s gentleman drivers is the Docker I’d watch that over Ford, and Ferrari only cuz falling for our feels like Hollywood to me. And I admit, I don’t have a, I don’t have a strong feeling towards that kind of, you know, teal and orange type of Hollywood big, huge budget, I will probably end up watching it just because everyone keeps pointing me to wards. But But yeah, anyway. So is that something that you go into in your book
very much, or were you you’re just talking specifically, it’s about your, your, your work in the film, shoprunner model you’re creating, you’re creating a piece of content, which is your movie, and you’re already thinking about the product or services that you can sell that audience that will not only sell or upsell them, you’re providing a service to them something that they want. And I use, I use the example of my vegan chef movie, which I call crazy, sexy vegan. And I create this entire business model around the Crazy Sexy vegan, and all these different online courses and cooking courses and, you know, cookbooks and, and sponsorships and, and strategic partnerships. All of this stuff happens. But you’re really thinking about this before you make the movie. Because if you don’t think about it, before you make the movie, it’s a little bit more difficult to do
the so sorry, keep going.
So yeah, so that’s basically where the book is about. And that’s what the podcast is about. It’s really focusing on more of the business side of things, the marketing side of things, the side hustles, how to create product lines, what kind of product lines to go for your niche, the blue ocean, red ocean, strategies, all that kind of stuff, which most filmmakers have no idea about, but I think they’re I think filmmakers are a lot of independent filmmakers are making movies with the business model of the 90s in the early 2000s. That is what they’re there, they’re making a half a million dollar movie with no stars in a broad genre. And they’re expecting to either win Sundance or to go to AFM and find a distributor for their film that they’re going to get a half million dollar mg upfront, like those days are gone. But most a lot of filmmakers are still making those movies because they’re working on a business model that doesn’t exist anymore.
Does anyone get a minimum guarantee anymore?
I know it’s, it’s, I it’s I spoke to a handful of people who’ve gotten them, but they’re, they’re miniscule. So if the movie cost half a million, or even if it costs 150,000, they’ll get a $30,000 mg. By the way, that was an extreme case, but that’s an outlier. That’s not what What happened? Because that distributor specifically was a cable channel they sold a deal to a cable channel and they wanted to play that movie for nine months. But unfortunately that specific deal locked up his movie from all other platforms for nine months for 30 grand so now you’ve lost a year basically yeah have now your movies old for 30 grand so it doesn’t make it doesn’t make any sense. And that was considered a success that’s a success in his world. And that’s it success in the business. Oh, you made $150,000 movie and you got 30 grand for it that man you Well, you killing it. Like No Other business in the world? Is that a considered a success? So most times, no, I’m gonna say 99% of the times you’re not going to get an mg anymore. Unless the distributor has a guarantee sale waiting. And then an or it’s a super hot movie, or if there’s something about it that they know that they can make money with. They’re never going to do those days are gone. They’re so gone.
It’s crazy that people are still trying to live that dream. It’s the same dream as commercial world, people thinking because spike Jones was able to create commercial Fincher off feature that parlay that into a big career that somehow you know, if I shoot these little specks and then get or get an agent, windows closed. Yeah, windows closed.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, making a $7,000 action film in 1991 meant something if Robert Rodriguez showed up today, it means nothing. clerks would never see the light of day today. slacker would never see the light of day today. Brothers McMullan will never see the light of day to day those movies would not exist in today’s ecosystem, today’s world, they would get diluted and they would never ever get it. So those filmmakers would have never gotten an opportunity to get off the ground they were and arguably Spielberg Lucas Spielberg, Lucas. Scorsese Coppola, that was that generation where the studio’s opened up the gates and let the inmates run the asylum because they had no other choice at that time. That was a winner of our Do you think taxi driver would get made today, or Raging Bull, you know, or even the Godfather, you know, any of those movies wouldn’t get made in today’s world, in today’s studio system. So there was windows of opportunity for certain things and certain times to happen. So that was the indie revolution in the 90s. And that was the film school generation. And now we’re in there’s the MTV generation where the commercial guys came up, like Fincher Bay, and you know, food, quad, and Jones and those guys, and now we’re the YouTube generation, and now is coming up. And now things are changing so differently now that I believe that this is the moment for the film entrepreneur, I believe this is the moment where filmmakers can actually build businesses around the art that they love to do. And you’re not going to get rich, the plan is could you get rich sure anyone can, there’s always a lottery ticket. But it’s based on fundamentals, where you build a product, create ancillary product lines off of it, and revenue streams, great, create another product, another film, create enslaver, you start building a portfolio, so now you’re diversifying your portfolio. If you work at all into the same niche, or at least close to the same niche, you can leverage the audience and keep building a 49.
And we’ll Korea that’s what you build, right?
So right. So over the course of five years, you maybe have five to seven movies, in five years, where you have multiple revenue streams coming in, most of those revenue streams are not controlled by a middleman, they’re controlled by you, because you’re selling products, or you’re selling services. And then the exploitation of the movie actually almost becomes a loss leader, where you’re just putting it out there as advertising to get to get people to come into your ecosystem. So that is the business model. And that’s basically the entrepreneurial model. And I go in detail deep depth into it in the book, and I have an extensive amount of case studies that show exactly every aspect of the method, and people who have succeeded at it, who are not outliers. They’re like the principles are sound in every case study that I use.
Yeah. And I think the reason why the principles are sound is that it’s based on real world business experience, because you’re an actual filmmaker that has actually done it. Yeah. Oh, you know,
and I’m doing it. I’m doing it right now. Like I was, as I’m writing the book, I’m telling them, and I’m doing this method right now to you, because you’ve purchased this book, and I’ve used my movie as a case study. And here it is, and this and this and this and like, I’m not hiding it. I’m like, this is what the model is, guys. I’m providing a service. And if you want to change if you want to check out my movie, here’s the website. Don’t hate the player hate the game, you know. So it’s like I’m being very straightforward and honest about it. Because I want people to see the power of it. It’s extremely powerful. Yeah. And I’ve seen filmmakers build empires. I know, I use three exit three or four examples in the book of these people off of one or two movies built multi million dollar businesses off in order to movies.
I know one of the ones you’ll use because you’ve spoken to him a few times. It’s the the ex military guys arranged 15 Yeah, so those guys understood business very well and became film So, the next one Formica show, the podcast is the very intro talks about strategy. If you don’t have a strategy, the difference is not your work. Your work has to be good. Regardless, the difference is strategy, it comes down to strategy and correct walk is full strategy. So a nice little segue into the final question, which is, and if I was, if I was to answer this question myself, it would be you, you would you’ve you’ve inspired me, this inspires me. Because I think the possibility that we have as filmmakers to empower ourselves with knowledge that we can then build a sustainable video production company as an example with what I’m doing a sustainable career as a as an indie filmmaker, with your stuff is real. And and the difference between that and not doing it comes down to knowledge. And so knowledge knowledge is something that is extremely important. So the question is, what’s something that you’ve seen watched or heard recently that inspired you?
I’m reading a book right now. That’s pretty cool. called the big picture by Ben Fritz. And it’s all about Hollywood, Hollywood’s fight for the movies like the fight between the platforms, and the studio system and the tentpole movies and why film why the studios are not making the big budget dramas anymore, and they’re only focused on franchises and all that like that whole world. And it’s fascinating and how, how the platforms are not using audience opinions. They’re using hard data. Why like like, why Adam Sandler? People look at Netflix and go Oh, you guys are ridiculous. Why did you give Adam said like, these movies are horrible. Why would you watch like, these are not good movies, that those those four or five pictures that they did with that with Adam. And the thing was that because of their data, they knew that they this is this is a quote from the book, people prior to them signing the deal with Adam. People had watched all of Adam Sandler movies on netflix 500 million hours, or 500,000 hours, 500,000 hours of Adam Sandler movies. So they knew that people wouldn’t aren’t like Adam Sandler’s careers got to a place where you probably won’t go out to the theater to watch him. But if you’re scanning through something, and you’re like scanning, they’re like, Oh, it’s an Adam Sandler movie. I know what I’m gonna get it’s gonna be this kind of silly thing. It’s it’s safe and I’ll watch it and you’ll watch it and a lot of times you’ll just watch it because you know what you’re gonna get it’s a it’s a brand it’s a brand you know what you’re gonna get and I’ll watch it and if it’s not that good, I’ll turn it off that’s why they signed him a four year four picture deal then right afterwards another four picture deal right after that, because it was good And the same thing goes for Will Smith. Will Smith was one of those other stars that has lost a lot of his his his shine, except on certain kind of like you know, if you put them in bad boys like the new one is gonna come out soon. Great. But the Gemini man bond with the Gemini man do well on Netflix probably do really, really great on Netflix, and might have been a much better fit than trying to do a theatrical because Will’s not that guy anymore. Because people aren’t. It’s the world has changed. Yeah, you know, movie stars are not powerful anymore. The movie stars in the right projects are powerful. You know, Brad Pitt just came out with that movie ad Aster. That’s that sci fi movie. Yep. Which I hear is fantastic. By the way it bombs. Well, really? Yeah, it didn’t it didn’t do well financially. But if Brad Pitt can’t if Brad Pitt can’t bring people in, then what chance Does anybody else have really so then you get a movie like once upon a time in Hollywood, which had Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, two of the biggest movie stars in the world. And Arnie mozzie and a female Ozzy, exactly, and, and then on top of that, you’ve got one of the biggest directors in the world who’s honestly one of the few or tours left in the Hollywood system, which is quitting Tarantino he’s one of those few guys that get to do whatever he wants. The combination of those three makes all the sense in the world and the movie was a success because of the combination of those three, but
and so I think the story as well, like Well, yeah, the story is almost like a niche, because it’s a story about Hollywood, so everyone’s gonna block
it, but it’s a Tarantino’s a niche, you know? Tarantino Tarantino is a niche so if you’d like Tarantino, you’re gonna show up. Oh, and it also has Brad Pitt. And Leonardo DiCaprio in the rain rolls? Well, hell definitely gonna go up. Yeah, so movie stars don’t have the power of like, before, you know, Julia Roberts or Tom Hanks would just put the poster face on the poster and 25 million opening 50 million open it just it was automatic. Those days are gone. Now. What’s what people the reason why that was automatic is because people were looking at they go to a Tom Cruise movie. Because they know what they’re gonna get, they’re gonna get Tom Cruise doing what Tom Cruise does, you’re going to get a Julia Roberts movie because of this, you’re going to go to a Tom Hanks movie because of this, you’re going to go to Will Smith movie because of this. So that’s why anytime they jump jump genres, it’s always risky. So like when Robin Williams went from comedy to drama, you know until that brand became a thing when he could do drama and comedy took them a while to get to that place. But that’s what audiences went for it now, audiences are about 10 polls about and people can let people say, Oh, I want this or that. I’ll tell you where they’re getting that this or that in a second. But people are more comfortable knowing what they’re going to get in a Marvel movie. Like we all know what Marvel movies are not based on star power. Sure. Robert Downey is Iron Man, but now he’s gone. Sorry, spoiler alert. You know, so he’s, he’s gone. But, you know, people go to Marvel movies because of certain things. They go to a Harry Potter movie because they know what they’re going to expect. They go to these franchise movies, transformers, they know what they’re going to get. It’s not star power. It’s just not where people now are getting their mid that mid budget drama. It’s television. Breaking Bad. Yeah, isn’t. I mean, Breaking Bad was a great example. Do you know I just ran across
the globe as well, like in every part of the world, every Iraqi army is now on telly.
Right? Exactly. So now you got games of throne and Breaking Bad and the sopranos and Ray Donovan and all you know Bosh, and all these other Stranger Things, these shows that are that are kind of filling that niche of dramatic, really good writing good storytelling. That’s where all the independent filmmakers and and writers have gone, because that’s the only place they’re going to get to play at that level. Do you know that Breaking Bad was the second most profitable thing that Sony Pictures did in the last 20 years?
I did not know that. But I am not surprised.
And you know what the number one was, the number one was Spider Man, the first Spider Man from 2003, the Sam Raimi for Spider Man, that was vastly very, very, very, very profitable. Do you know how much they’ve made off of Breaking Bad as of 2018 $410 million on an investment of
you know what I mean? So it’s not to mention merchandise, not to mention all, they’ve made $410 million. It’s so profitable. Television is so much more profitable than independent film, it’s so much more profitable, you know, games are thrown, oh my god, that’s gonna be, they’re gonna be making money for on that show forever. They’re still making money in the sopranos on the wire, there’s so profitable making a television series. But that’s how the world has shifted. And people just really need two, independent filmmakers need to understand the marketplace and making a product for that marketplace. And I have a whole chapter on art versus commerce. One of the last chapters I wrote, I wrote a whole chapter about art versus commerce, because people are like, Oh, you’re just trying to look about the business. I’m like, Dude, it’s called show business, bro. And the word business has twice as many letters as the word show. If you don’t understand the business of filmmaking, you won’t be a filmmaker, you’re a hobbyist. And that’s fine. You want to be a hobbyist, be a hobbyist, but don’t bitch and moan when you’re not making a living doing your hobby. You know, I can go play the guitar, but I’m not making a living playing with my guitar. I’m a hobbyist until I learned how to make a business out of playing guitar. I’m a hobbyist. Same thing goes with filmmaking. So you, if you don’t understand the business, you don’t understand how to get distribution, you don’t understand a great revenue streams with your product, you’re done, you’ll have a one, maybe two, if you’re lucky. And that’s the end of the end The end of the game for you. So you really need to get into this, whether you like it or not, you need to understand what’s going on in the marketplace. And by the way, the marketplace is changing. It just changed. I mean, as we were speaking, something shifted, it’s changing so fast, the technology is changing so rapidly, and the audience is changing so rapidly, that it’s impossible to stay on top of it. So you just really, really gotta have this. That’s why I think the film to printer model is the most bulletproof way of creating something that that will last regardless of the technology. You know, because you’re creating, you know, heart, a T shirt is a T shirt, or a lunchbox isn’t like it’s George Lucas says the money’s in the lunchboxes guy, yeah, lunchboxes, and it’s very true, and I think independent filmmakers can get to that place as well.
So I say to my students that every every good entrepreneur finds a way of productizing what they do, and yes, Lucas is a classic example of that. That’s what they did with Star Wars. That’s where the money was. So
do you know how much do you by the way I did the numbers. You know how much they make of that.
I’m sure it’s in the 10s of billions. So
when they when they from the years from from Return of the Jedi to The rerelease of the original trilogy, I think was like 97 if I’m not mistaken, so during those years, they made every year $1.5 billion in March and then with no movies $1.5 billion now they’re pulling in four or 5 billion a year. Yeah. off of all the all the things did you see? Have you seen mallet? Mandalorian? yet? Are you Star Wars fan?
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, that’s it. I haven’t seen it yet. But Oh, good. Yeah. And there’s Oh, good is New Tech. See some people. First of all, I want to say I love your passion, brother. I love it. It’s well in people don’t get to see my passion here. You got to see it a little bit before. But inside my program, when I’m talking to my students, they know what Klotzbach it’s that same kind of, I fucking care about you guys are care about what we do. I care about the industry. And that’s why I’m kind of a little bit of ranting a little bit of, you know, a little bit of pressure, but at the same time, it’s coming from a place of compassion. The passion is, you know, empathy. It’s compassion. Yeah. So, so I love I love your I love your passion. I think the trick to making commerce an artwork is making certain that something is creatively driven. Because if there’s no, if the filmmaking sucks, you’re not going to be able to sustain it correct, have to have good work. So creatively driven, data inspired. And that’s the tagline for my for my agency. That’s the way I do business with my, my actual clients. The the creative aspect has to be there, everything has to come from the narrative. But if you if you ignore the data, then you’re going to go out of business, if you ignore the data, you will not get a business result. And for any filmmakers, a business result is a sustainable career. And you mentioned before, you’re not going to get rich from independent filmmaking, then there’ll be outliers. But under this model, I think this model is actually is this, there’s more, it’s more profitable than people imagine. But there’s so few people doing it well. So people think, you know, let’s just put the trailer out, we’ll use Facebook ads, and we’ll just boost some Facebook ads. There’s no real strategy behind that all you’re doing, you might as well take a $10 bill and a lighter and burn it or give the money to Facebook, right? You’ve got to have strategy and strategies in the follow up. That’s where all the money is.
So the clearer to clarify what I meant when I said there was no you can’t get rich off the first one like this million dollar but you know, like this lottery doesn’t happen. Yeah, I totally have El Mariachi clerks, like you know that someone comes down from Mount Hollywood and writes you a check. Does it happen once in a blue moon, but it’s not a business model. So that’s what I mean you won’t get rich, but when you build a business, you will can maintain a sustainable career, I don’t need millions of dollars, I need enough to be able to live here in LA, put food on the table, put some money away for retirement, put some money away for my kids college, and, and do what I love to do. I don’t need all the fancy things, I don’t need millions and millions of dollars. What I like it sure, the more money I have, the more resources I have, the more impact I can make. And that’s the way I look at my business in general, the more money I can generate is the more impact that I can make and build out my business and, and make a larger impact on the world. That’s, that’s the goal. But you you don’t need it. You don’t need to this kind of lottery tick, I use the term lottery ticket mentality is a disease in the filmmaking community. It is a disease we like you know, with Rebel Without a crew, you know, and El Mariachi and Robert Rodriguez, which is basically a mythical story at this point, that that really screwed up a lot of filmmakers that they’ve done and I’m not blaming Roberts not him at all, but that time period where every week there was a new filmmaker, you know, just getting a deal. You know, it was insane time. Those days are gone. And and that’s not a sustainable career. And that’s what I think so many filmmakers fail.
Yeah, and if we look at the politics of what happened through that, you’ll see that for every one there was there was for everyone that the got the means. There was non the didn’t. And what happened is the business people are taking advantage of the filmmakers by making them believe in this dream. And so of course, Mike is going to put stuff on credit cards and borrow money to make their film film school these guys are going these are these guys are going which one can I choose? Oh, this one, this one. This one will make me $4 million. And then you know, so I make $4 million out of that I make $10 million. Yeah. So it’s, it’s a whole thing that that dream is actually has been perpetuated. First, it was developed by business people, producers and so forth, in order to get creative people to believe in it so that they would create shit that these guys can sell. So I think your model empowers the filmmaker and brings those two worlds together. So you can have even if you’re you Talking to a filmmaker now even if you’re you just want to focus on the art you have to understand the business at a minimum and you also have to think at a very minimum bring someone on as a partner that can they can do those parts of the business that you don’t necessarily want to do. And in doing so, you’re empowering yourself such that you can have a sustainable career and potentially make a good career out of it. Like an actual like a curry curry. Not a pretend career not a hobby guitar on the side
career. Yeah, right exactly.
Cool, man. Well, thank you for today I’ve really enjoyed this conversation I really enjoyed meeting you and my pleasure, man, I kind of Yeah, I feel I think when you get passionate when I when you get passionate I see myself in you. I don’t know if you saw yourself and me when I was getting passionate before but I did that because I think people like us Not everyone gets us some sometimes people think clucks angry and I’m like, I’m a fucking angry, I’m passionate. So I get that there’s
a there’s, there’s there’s a few episodes I have where I just I go off and I warn my audience beforehand. I’m like, Alright guys, I’m pissed. Just and generally those are those are the most downloaded. Those are the people. Those are the most talked about. Those are the most shared people really love when I do that, because it’s genuine, it’s passionate. I love what I do. I love filmmakers, I want to help them. I also understand their their lunacy, their delusions, their ego, because I’ve walked all of those paths myself. So I call them on their shit. Because I’m like, Dude, don’t don’t do that. I think I called my movie on the corner of ego and desire for a reason. And it’s about filmmakers trying to sell their movie at Sundance. And the ridiculousness about it’s a spinal tap meets
the play. That was the thing that took a small crew to Sundance. Yeah, I shot
the whole movie at Sundance over four days, and shot an entire movie guerilla style. And without Sundance knowing about it. So yeah, it was it was fantastic. And it’s anytime it’s been played at a theater or screening with filmmakers, people just piss themselves because a lot of inside jokes and things like that, but I just, I call it out. I’m like, you guys were ridiculous. We’re ridiculous. People as a general statement, I think filmmakers were nuts were insane. We’re Carnival folk. But we’re still loving and passionate. We just want to tell stories. But But there is a level of insanity to walk into this business in the general. I mean, this is not a sane business to walk in. I just explained to you someone spent $150,000, they made 32. Like, wow, that’s fantastic. Yeah, like that doesn’t that’s not a business.
So you may that’s just ignorance, that’s just a filmmaker that is just ignorant. So go on, fucking educate yourself so that you’re not ignorant, and then you won’t be an idiot. And you’ll actually be able to have a real business that were correct, where you can feed your family, and you can sustain yourself. Correct. And you can also be creative at the same time.
And that’s what you and I are both trying to do in our own respective worlds. Yeah, I think we could talk. We could talk for hours. Oh, I could do Oh, dude, you got you kidding me. I could talk for 234 hours. But But thanks for having me on the show. But I really appreciate you taking the time. My pleasure.
So have you enjoyed today’s episode, and here’s what I want you to do next, I want you to take one thing that you got from today’s show, and to put it into practice in your career in business, because it’s only through having the right systems in place, that you’ll be able to take your career and business from where you are today to where you want to be. So again, I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. So until next time, I’m Clarke Scott from next level filmmaker. Have a great day.
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