Our 17th Webcast where we discuss Indie Film Distribution with Filmmakers & Distributors.

 

From Amazon to Sundance how do you get more eyeballs to see your flick? To answer this and other related questions we reached out to both filmmakers and distributors for guidance. Have your questions ready and let’s all learn how to better distribute our documentaries and feature films.

Sarah Marince:

Hello, everyone. Happy Wednesday. And welcome to crew talk brought to you by shoots.video. So today we have a big house. We were talking indie film distribution. And so I’m going to go around and have everyone kind of say their name, what they do and where they’re located. I’m your host, Sarah as always. And we have Justin as well. Hi, Justin. How are you doing today? Great. So I’m going to start with Ben. Hello! Why don’t you go ahead. Introduce yourself. What’d you do and where you are?

Ben Yennie:

My name is Ben Yennie. I am currently the CEO and lead of acquisitions at mutiny pictures, but I’m probably still best known as a producer’s rep. And I currently live in Philadelphia.

Sarah Marince:

Very cool. Very I’m from PA as well, Pittsburgh. So Pennsylvania. Hello Hunter. Hello.

Hunter Lee Hughes:

Hi there. So my name is Hunter Lee Hughes. I’m a filmmaker and I had a feature film distributed through Garvey Tufts ventures. And so got some experience with distribution that way. And I did start out my career as a freelance story analyst with paramount classics, which later became paramount vantage. So I did see a little bit from the perspective of like a company that did development and also a distribution.

Sarah Marince:

Very cool. Well welcome Jennica?

Jennica Schwartzman:

Hi, I’m Jennica Schwartzman and I’m a partner of Little Sister Entertainment, which is a independent movie distribution and small press publishing house. And I’m also a producer and my partner at little sister is also a producer and we make films. So that’s why we started a distribution company and I’m in Hollywood, California.

Sarah Marince:

Very cool. Is your partner your little sister? No, I’m his little sister. Okay. So it’s a little sister in there somewhere. Very cool. I love the name. Very cool. Well welcome.

Daniel Bort:

Hi there. I am currently working with an animation studio in China, gold FantaWild and I produce films. I’ve been a producer rep. I’m the producers rep that got the deal on gravitas for Hunter. So that’s why I’m here. He invited me over here. Awesome.

Sarah Marince:

Very cool. Well welcome. And where are you located?

Daniel Bort:

Oh, Hollywood, California too.

Sarah Marince:

Wonderful. Very cool. Well, welcome.

Marc Clebanoff:

Hey guys, Marc Clebanoff on the managing partner of Odyssey motion pictures based in LA I’m a long time producing partners. Louis Mandalore. We started, we’ve been producing movies for years, and about 10 years ago, we started our own sales agency. So we sell direct to, I don’t know, a hundred plus countries all over the world. We produce two to three films a year ourselves and excited be here.

Glen Reynolds:

Hey there. I made it in time. So hi, I’m Glenn Reynolds. So circus road films. I’m also a producer rep. I’ve worked with several of the people in the cast here. Marc just recently and Jennica and Justin a few times and Ben a couple of times. So I’m excited to be with good company here.

Sarah Marince:

Wonderful. And where are you located?

Glen Reynolds:

I’m in studio city in Los Angeles.

Sarah Marince:

Very fun. Well, welcome everyone. We are very excited to have you. We have some questions here and I’m going to ask the questions and I’ll kind of call on you all to answer and then you all can jump in as usual. And then towards the end, we’re gonna take some audience questions. So for our viewers today, if you have questions, throw them in the chat box and we’ll ask those a little later and stick around. Cause we do have a fun giveaway as always. All right. So I’m going to start with Mark. So Mark, how is distribution in 2021 different than it has ever been? How do you think it’s going to be?

Marc Clebanoff:

Well, I don’t think it’s just limited to 2021 distribution has been evolving very rapidly for the last few years is everything’s gone digitally. You know, back in the day, everything came down to shelf space, you know, the cream Rose to the top, the best shelves the best films ended up on the shelves and there was kind of a clear path. It was about getting your film on the shelf now because everything’s digital, the shelf is in the cloud, so there’s room for everything. So instead of getting your film on the shelf, it’s more about making your film stand out in terms of 2021 and how COVID affected everything. You know, it’s well, I’ll be quick and I’ll say it’s two-fold first and foremost distributors are tripping over themselves to an extent right now they have big holes in their release schedules because there’s been a lack of production.

Marc Clebanoff:

So it’s a good time to have a finished piece of content on the other hand, you know, because of kind of the Rocky nature of, of what’s going on right now, people are less likely to part with cash at the moment. So, so it’s becoming more volume driven. It’s becoming more about backend as opposed to upfront money which is challenging, not just for content creators, but for distributors as well. And sales agents. So yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s rapidly evolving. What I will say is that Avon is definitely emerging as kind of the mainstay and independent distribution. So you know, I’m sure we’ll talk more about that. What is, what is Avon Sanford? Avon is well, there’s three different major types of video on demand. There’s transactional T VOD. Subscription-Based like Amazon prime and then there’s ad base. It’s like Tubi TV, for example, or YouTube, but even be an example of Avon, but you know, as the dust settles in the digital world, I think, and I’m sure most, a lot of people on the panel have plenty to contribute to this, but Ava seems to really be emerging as like the mainstay for independent filmmakers.

Justin McAleece:

There’s a bigger chance to make more money per view on a VOD than there are on the other ones. It seems

Marc Clebanoff:

Correct. Depends on the platform, but yeah, for right

Sarah Marince:

Now. Yeah. Cool. Does anyone have anything else they want to add on to that? Moving on, Mark, you kind of covered it all. All right, go ahead.

Ben Yennie:

Yeah. the only other thing I’d add about distribution and in general is that it is wise to not be thinking about the film itself as the only product you’re pitching. When you’re working on getting your film distributed, you should be thinking more about building your brand and other ways you can monetize that are outside of traditional distribution. Yeah,

Justin McAleece:

I’ll get a, I’ll get a quick plug here, talk to Jennica. So we’re currently distributing a movie break madness that I’ve been making with her and other people for the last 11 years. It’s finally out. But anyway, Jennica, I know that we’re pursuing other revenue streams. So we’re trying to do other things with the movie, with the property and get money out of it. What else are we talking about?

Jennica Schwartzman:

Possibly. Yeah, I think exactly what Ben is like bringing up is the, you want to take your intellectual property and you want to be able to expand it. When we started our company, a little sister, the idea is that we weren’t just going to take one-off films. They just, weren’t going to be an option. We wanted to look at something like brick madness and go, well, I think that would be a really cool young adult series, or I think that would be a really cool board game, like a family card game. Well, I think like the different areas that you can take that in and make sure that it’s a filmmaker that is interested in expanding the IP is interested in not just that one, you know, franchising like ability, but a filmmaker brand of somebody who wants to continue to bring IP to the table and movies that are not one-offs because you want to be able to click on the director and see all of their stuff. And you want to be able to trust what that means because Christopher Nolan is a Christopher Nolan movie. We want that, like, it’s just as exciting as I can see George Clooney space. I want to see in the indie world a lot more of that in happening in house. And it’s starting to, because that’s the big change that we’re seeing.

Hunter Lee Hughes:

Yeah. so I, first of all, I just want to thank you for having me on this panel. I’m so excited and I have to warn everybody that I’m kind of like that annoying kid in the class that’s like wants to have a contrarian opinion. So I, I apologize an event that want to hear it in that way, but two things strike me about 2021 that I think are worth bringing up. One is I don’t think we quite know what’s going to be the new normal after the pandemic. Is it going to be like after 1918 and 19 eight, 19, when they had this big pandemic, then what followed was the roaring twenties, like the most extroverted decade of the century, you know, where people just wanted to go out and party and do things and be in public and communal spaces. So is that going to happen or are people gonna like keep some of the shifts in viewing and habits that they’ve acquired over the pandemic?

So that’s one big question. And the other problem that I see for independent films and films in general is that I personally believe we’re coming off the weakest decade in terms of cinema, since cinema has started in terms of the quality of feature films and, and their ability to change people’s lives and have insights. And I think that young people are no longer going to the cinema and like, Oh my God, that movie changed my life. That a movie effected me so profoundly. I think it’s been just a weaker decade in terms of cinema. And I think that gives us something to overcome. Whereas like podcasts like yours have been on the rise during the last decade or series have been on the rise in terms of quality in the last decade or something like even like food, you know, restaurants, celebrity chefs, innovative fusions. It’s, it’s been nobody’s thinking that restaurants are going to go away, but people are really afraid that movie theaters might go away. And why. So I think it’s worth just adding that to the discussion.

Marc Clebanoff:

Well, I think one of the reasons why it’s been such a cumbersome decade and you’re right, but one of the biggest reasons is because all the power has gone to the distributors. The distributors are now telling everybody what to make used to be the other way around. We used to go out and make a great film, and there was a pathway for it now because of the digital landscape. And because it’s, it’s become a lot harder to monetize and be lucrative with these films, it’s all become volume driven. So they’re just, I mean, I sit with buyers that open a catalog and point to a crappy looking B-movie and literally say, make me that, that made money make me that. So they circulate these lists of actors. They want a types of movies and everybody’s trying to basically recreate the same formulaic piece of garbage and as less and less money is being made on the movies because of digital distribution, the budgets of the movies are getting less. So you’re seeing the same formulaic movie, but for less money. So, yeah, I agree. I think more of the power and I’m hoping the pandemic will actually shift the power back to the content creator most more so than the distributor. Because I agree it’s, it’s been a dismal few years for films

Hunter Lee Hughes:

And I think there’s another big see it’s like we can talk about distribution, but the reality is all the different phases of the process then affect something like distribution. But, you know, when I started out my career, there was this phenomenon of, you know, you would read scripts, like when I was reading scripts for paramount classics and paramount vantage is like, Susan Sarandos is attached to this and it was kind of the business practice at that point to like attach an actor. And the thought was, well, it doesn’t cost the actor that much to be attached. And then you’d maybe meet with Susan Surandon and she’d have ideas and the script would get better. And there would be a creative that

Would be evolved. But now the agents and managers have put that on ice because they realized at some point that, you know, if Susan Sarandon attaches herself to a film and it doesn’t get made that diminishes her value in the marketplace. And so then now you’re looking at a world where you have to raise the money before you can make the offer. Whereas, you know, the development used to be a little bit different. So I think that’s how to hit on the, I certainly don’t think it’s that there’s less creative people or less brilliant people wanting to make films. Then you have to take into consideration though, is, you know, obviously distribution has gone digital, but so is filmmaking. And so filmmaking’s become much more tangible. So there’s a lot more films being made now than the word, even like 10, 15 years ago, you know, back in the day, not everybody could make a film.

Marc Clebanoff:

Now anybody with a smartphone can make a film. So anybody with an idea and a camera thinks they’re Spielberg and they’re out there flooding the market with these little movies. So yeah, it’s forced talent to be a lot more selective and other talent to be a lot less selective. So, but yeah, I mean, that’s just the digital landscape be a distribution or the filmmaking process itself it’s completely changed the game. There are still parts of that landscape that are largely unchanged. Like you can still attach early without pay or plays or money if you have the right casting director. But the only way you can get the right casting director is to actually get people to is either have a preexisting relationship or pay them lots and lots of money relatively speaking, and, or possibly both. Like we’ve got a couple of names attached that we didn’t have to pay upfront for a couple of projects because we worked with a really high end casting director, but we had to pay them a lot for the project. So we can still work in more of the old way. You just have to find a way you just have to navigate the new Gates and dragons at let’s excellent discourse guys. We just wanted to welcome Linda. She is here. Linda, if you can introduce yourself real quick, tell us where you’re from.

Linda Nelson:

Hi, sorry. I was late. I had a little technical challenge for a minute. Anyway, I’m Linda Nelson, I’m the CEO of a indie, right. And I’m in downtown Los Angeles and we’ve not, our business has not been affecting negatively by COVID because we’ve always operated the company from a live work loft. So and we have two employees that live in studio apartments, very close to here. And so we have a little COVID bubbles and you know, we’ve been that way since March and but we’ve watched, what’s really interesting is that because there’s nothing else to do, but watch movies, we’ve watched our business triple. Wow. That’s wonderful, absolutely incredible growth that we’ve seen in for a lot of, for a lot of reasons. I think when you look at someone like Tubi, for example when Fox bought them, all of a sudden, you know, on the there’s a big Tubi banner on the front of the sports desk in sports Central’s on.

Linda Nelson:

So I know they’ve like tripled their business. And so you know, we, and the fact that, that everyone is counting pennies we, we see everyone moving, everyone’s moving to AVOD. I mean, we have just seen a lot explode, I mean, even peacock Seva, but we’re, we’re seeing hardly any business at all on TV, but we are saying, seeing huge business on AVOD.

Daniel Bort:

Absolutely. Let’s talk about, about a little bit, because the main problem that we have with AVOD is that, okay, we have a lot of viewers, but we have lack of advertisers and the CPMs are going really lower and lower and lower. I’ve been hearing about $1 CPM. So for every thousand views CPMs cost per thousand and it’s the measure that you D you were seeing between nine and $11, right? Well, all of our channels, big chance you know, to be in, but some, some advertisers have taken advantage of it and they’re going down on the CPMs and I’ve seen CPMs going from five, four, even I’ve seen CPMs have one

Marc Clebanoff:

COVID had its impact on AVOD is a lot of advertisers put their business on ice or pulled back because they were just nervous about spending money because nobody knew what the future held. But I don’t know. I agree. I think it’s starting to bounce back a little bit to be, especially as like chains, especially especially now they’re, they’re they’re expanding in a foreign territory to, you know, we, in the United States, we have tunnel vision because all we know about is what, you know, we have everything, we have strong TV, we have strong digital. We, we even still have DVD. Other parts of the world, the digital digital platforms and landscape has it’s either in its infancy or it doesn’t exist in a lot of places. So now that two is going into like Latin America and France and Japan and, and these other foreign territories, it’s going to really boost the global digital market, which is good,

Daniel Bort:

But it’s picking up fast. I have news, for example, Pluto TV has been growing faster in Latin America, that endeavor grew in and in North America. So, so people are picking up that their doors are picking up on, on the AVO D system really fast and their money Tyson on it as well. Right. Well, what’s interesting is we now have all of these cable replacement platforms like sling and Pluto, and now, and YouTube TV. I mean, you just don’t need a cable box anymore. And, and, you know, so as cable just totally disappears, you know, it’s, it’s all gonna be those types of cable replacement platforms where all the revenue is and the advertisers going to go where the eyeballs are, you know, so we have to follow the, the advertisers. It’s just, you know, regular TV is dying. Nobody’s going to pull out the TV guide and go, I gotta be home on Tuesday night at nine 30. You know, watch this show that’s done. It’s done now. The Avon now is just new TV where it’s just like all TV, except it’s whenever you want me in a huge quantity of content, just massive. And, and I don’t know, the only thing we used to do that makes a difference is social media currency. You either make your content stand out, or it’s not going to get seen because there’s just too much of it.

Justin McAleece:

Absolutely. it just, it’s, we’re getting a lot of questions in the chat and in the Q and a, so if anyone here, while you’re not talking, since we have so many bill ball on the panel today, if you have an ability to answer to any of those questions by typing, then that is a, a good way to try to answer as many questions as we can and try to give as much insight as possible. Yeah. Sarah throw the next question. I have to Glen. So Glen get ready. What advice do you have for filmmakers today to increase their ability to distribute their project?

Glen Reynolds:

Wow. So kind of depends on if you’re talking about like a finished film and they’re, you know, rated to take it out, you know, probably the first step is showing it to your colleagues and friends and family and seeing if you’ve got anything getting feedback, getting into as best possible place. The next step I think, from there is to start is to start, you know, if it is, if the feedback is that it’s a festival movie and you know, where are you on the calendar in terms of starting to apply to festivals? Some films are not, you know, festival type materials. So if that’s the case probably the next step is to reach out to people like Ben and Daniel and Jennica and London, me and Mark, and, and start sharing it with people who are in touch with the various distributors to see what you have, and if we’re all going Gonzo for it and want to make a deal with you, then, then it’s a matter of, you know, making sure that you’re with one of us or another good player to try to get it in front of distributors eyes. I think it’s it’s good to have someone who’s been there on your side. If you’re a first time filmmaker to, you know, go out into the world, there’s a lot of, a lot of crooks out and a lot of you know, companies that don’t don’t serve you well. And it’s, I think it’s probably the best step is to get, you know people who have been there on your side to help you get out into the world.

Linda Nelson:

I like the little corner and it’s really, really simple. All you gotta do is go on and IMDB pull up the car. Any distributor that you’re thinking about working with pick five films that they’ve been distributing for at least a year and call up producers. It’s so simple. And yet it’s so hard for us to get people to do that. Believe me, you’ll either get somebody crying on the phone or you’ll get somebody that says, Oh, they’re doing a great job for us. It’s so easy yet. People just don’t do that little bit of due diligence. And you know, it saves you a lot.

Ben Yennie:

Totally right. Linda. I still get people asking me for references, which I’m always happy to provide, but generally I tell them to go to IMD B as well, when I was doing more work as a producer’s rep and starting out there was a sales agent who isn’t around anymore, who, when I was calling his references that he actually gave me, I’m pretty sure it was just him doing different voices through different Google voice numbers. So, so you’re saying he’s crafty. That’s good. That’s what we want. Right. I mean, it would be burned up any sales, but the yeah,

Jennica Schwartzman:

I would also add that, getting it to people like Glen was saying, you want to send it to people to get it seen. I think that kind of a big hurdle I’ve found with newer filmmakers is having key art. That’s interesting enough for somebody to actually click on the link and watch, because if you have a trailer or you have a good poster or at least an idea, or honestly, if you have no idea, a different poster, that would be good for your film, plus your title, like having the information visual and easy also is the step to getting it seen by somebody in the first place, because we can all ask our moms and dads and uncles to watch our movie and they will give us two hours of their life. But I find that it’s actually been hard to get professional strangers, to actually click and get through to that next spot. After the first, honestly, 10 minutes, you’ve probably lost somebody. So if you have an interesting part of your movie, that’s buried in it, it would be smart to consider a different timeline or artistic decision to put it in the first 10 minutes. Because I think that first 10 minutes is like a poster I’m going to get to the next part. And then I’m an invested and I’m interested in everything. But I do think representing your work is something, a lot of filmmakers would be learning on their still their second or third movie, getting it to a distributor, but that’s what the distributor is going to turn around and do with it right away. Like that’s the first step of getting to where we want it to go before it can go out to the audience, to the marketplace.

Marc Clebanoff:

Materials though, like, yeah, but I mean like the trailer and key are obviously a distributor. That’s going to do that on your behalf. Once they’ve gotten in the mix on your film, but even to get a sales agents attention, I can’t tell you how often filmmakers send me something with like a two and a half, three minute trailer. I can’t get through the trailer. Why would I have any motivation to even look at the film? You know, it’s I, I can’t tell you how often it goes through my head. I watched them, I go, do they not watch movies? Do they not like, go on YouTube and watch trailers of films that are similar thematically, tonally, you know, whatever and emulate that, you know, so, but you’re exactly right about the marketing materials, the key art, the trailer. And you’re never going to do it as, as good or as calculated as a distributor probably will, but you can still take steps on your own with, you know, very few means and, and put together proper presentation material.

Justin McAleece:

Totally. Yeah. We’ve been using Chris Davidson at the robot eye. And just me personally, like I think he did such a better job than I ever could have done making my own poster. And then I use that with everything. And even if that changed, eventually distributor wanted to change it or give me something new. Like that’s when you also have to take a step back and be like, okay, the distributor knows what actually sells. Maybe it’s not like quote, quote, unquote as good of a poster, but maybe it will work better. And that’s also where you got to kind of step aside as a tour or whatever you fancy yourself as, as a filmmaker and be ready to put something out there that sells your movie in the best possible way. But you have to get to that point with other stuff that sells your movie the best possible way

Marc Clebanoff:

Thing with distributors too, you spend all this time, energy and money and passion making a film, and then a distributor might take it and put it out as something totally different. So that’s, that’s a, that’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it happens.

Ben Yennie:

Actually Mark covered most of my points there, but going on the Mr. Marketing, it’s an absolute epidemic and it does not work in the digital landscape at all, but I’ve had many distributors who tried to sell a fictional example of a, a memento style thriller as a action packed cartel story just because it happened to have a cartel guy in it. And because of that, the movie started at like an eight on IFDB and then ended up around three within two weeks of release.

Justin McAleece:

It’s not even because it’s a bad movie, it’s just because they felt bait and switch, right.

Marc Clebanoff:

I’m actually gonna, I’m actually gonna place a little bit of the blame on this whole epidemic on Redbox, because they really got people creating this schlocky key art with the idea of pitching Redbox. And a lot of it is just totally misrepresentation.

Daniel Bort:

That release is 56 movies a month or something like that. It’s this isn’t a ridiculous amount. And all he has is amazing artwork and incredible trainers. And then you see them moving. Their movies are really, really not that good as, as that. So yeah, there, there are people that do this for a living what we’re talking about,

Jennica Schwartzman:

We all seem to be in agreement. Like it’s unfair to mess with the consumer that you want to put out something a certain way. I do think that there are tears. There is what you want to put out to the distributor, or to get a sales rep or a producer’s rep, or to get a person to be on your side from the industry. And then it is going to take a completely different turn to when you go out to the market. There is that that happens. And I think that that’s confusing to filmmakers that it might be the same thing as what you guys are. We’re all agreeing as a problem. But I do think when you’re putting out your film, you have to be malleable and want to go in a certain direction and you want to trust your distributor. And it goes to exactly what Linda said is calling filmmakers and asking them, because you can avoid most of this by talking to five filmmakers that can tell you I’m unhappy with this, but I’m happy that I can trust them. And they knew how to market my movie. And they believed in me as a artist and a brand, and they wanted the movie for legitimate reasons. So there’s all of those things that due diligence really will take us away from that danger that we all agree is a problem. There’s a big disconnect.

Linda Nelson:

I was going to say, there’s a, there’s a, I just, people need to also understand. There’s a huge difference between a theatrical poster and a VOD poster. Well, a lot of times people will send us a film and they’ve made this gorgeous poster because they’re in a film festival, right? And then when you go to film festivals, you usually bring us the apical poster with you. And then that’s what they submit to us as the poster for VOD. Well, the problem is that if you make that poster one inch tall, you can’t, you can’t see any of the details. So the, the thing with VOD posters, you mean big striking images because your poster basically has to be clickbait. Hopefully it says something about your movie, but it must, it must be something as people are flicking through those carousels on their remote, it’s got to grab. And, you know, I see people that have two little tiny people out on the beach, and you can’t even tell whether they’re answer birds or people, right? No, that doesn’t work for a VOD poster. It may make the gorgeous, the optical, but it isn’t going to work for VOD. So we w I would say more than I would say about 60 to 70% of the, that are submitted to us. When people submit those, we have to change. Sometimes it’s just a matter of saying, no, make your poster one inch tall, and you understand why we need you to change it. And then a lot of times they’ll come back to us with something good. And then otherwise, if they’re still bad, then we have like lists of three or four different people that we can recommend, you know, to do that. We know we’ll do a good job poster. So, and the same look, same with trailers, a tray, just cause you can make a good film. Doesn’t mean you could make a good trailer for some reason, filmmakers like to dwell on moments. And you, you can take the time to dwell on moments in your movie, but you really can’t in a trailer trailers need to move. And, and you know, so those are the biggest problems that we have with trailers and posters. And those two things are so critical because people pay well, they start watching, you know, a trailer and they don’t like it either. Your movie’s never gave him going to get a chance to be seen. So it’s there. The just can’t emphasize how important they are. Mark, did you have something to add? Yeah.

Marc Clebanoff:

I mean, kind of an expansion of that. I was going to say there’s a big disconnect between the creative and the business, you know, creatively. I think most filmmakers have a pretty clear vision. They all know what they want to do, but very few of them really know what they have to do. And that’s the distribution side. So, you know and the broad scope of the whole thing is like the people who find that graceful middle ground are the people who are gonna make a career out of it. Everybody else is just going to have a really expensive hobby. So how do you find that graceful middle ground as filmmakers need to educate themselves about how distribution works? They need to go to markets. They need to talk to sales agents and distributors before they make their movie, not after there’s film markets. I mean, even now, especially they’re more tangible than ever more accessible than ever because they’re online. There’s film markets every month that people can very economically sign up for and network and get a bit of education about the realities of the bids.

Sarah Marince:

Okay. Daniel, question for you. How do you prepare filmmakers for the fact that distribution is a long process and a lot of people, or most people don’t make money on their investment?

Daniel Bort:

Oh my God, the picture’s bleak. The picture’s bleak right now. I’m going to say that they need to prepare themselves. I mean, like we are in the business of distribution and we need to bring the goods. But if I, filmmaker is not ready to resend the problems that we are having right now, which is most new movies don’t make any money back. Okay. And we’re talking a lot about AVO da, if you’re this, one of the examples in which library is King and the extra money comes along, but when, when you have a huge negative big up that you need to pick up with with advertising is really hard to do 10 years ago horror movie in any horror movie and, and the UK will fetch $50,000 right now. You’re lucky if you get 3000, 2000, maybe $1,000 on an NG on an a movie it’s really hard to make money right now. So, so if you’re a filmmaker, you need to understand that this is the picture. And until the market completely changes and shifts and becomes something diff the diff the different market, the new market that we’re going to have pretty soon we are still on the, on the, on the lookout. We don’t know where the money is right now. It’s, it’s, that’s the reality of it.

Hunter Lee Hughes:

One of the investors in my film was an executive who has some experience in distribution, worked, who worked for universal. And last year, around this time a new producing partner and myself had a chance to have lunch with him on the universal lot. And I was really, really worried about what he was going to say, because the investors have not received all their funds back from my film yet. You know, we get our statements, we keep them updated. We, you know, and so I was kind of in my, in my brain, I was like, her body was like shaking a little bit to have this meeting with him, you know? And when I sat down with him and talked to him about the film, he’s like, Oh, Hunter, I’m very optimistic because over 20 years, I feel very confident about this. And I think that’s one thing it’s like, if you have educated investors that kind of know the landscape and like, in his mind, the picture for our film was way better than even in my own mind, you know, because he’s seen it really long-term and has background and experience with what that is. So I think it’s very, very important to be clear with your investors, because it’s an issue of conscience and it’s sometimes a legal issue too. But then as a filmmaker, you know, it comes down to an issue of like faith and why are you doing this? And in some ways, if you’re going to be a filmmaker at all, I feel like you have to either have some kind of radical faith in what you’re doing to because otherwise it’s, it’s something irrational is going to get you to the finish line. Because if you look at the, if you look at the, like the logic or the landscape, and you only make decisions based on that, I guess some people can navigate that with certain genre movies or that are very smart and leverage certain things and to get, but I mean, I think that there is a place for it. There’s an irrational element to being a filmmaker and you kind of have to have some weird faith and rely on that, or else you’re not gonna, you’re not gonna make it because it’s a long arduous process. And it doesn’t make sense a lot of times. So, so I don’t know, I don’t, I doubt that’s a comfort to anybody, but I think you really have to have that.

Linda Nelson:

I’m curious what everybody thinks. I mean, when, when I have filmmakers and say, Oh, my my investors are going to be so upset. This is so little money, you know, long. I always remind them that an investment is not alone. And that investing in film is one of the riskiest investments you can make. And your investors should not go into an investment in film, assuming that they’re going to make a profit and you know, you’re, you should, you know, everybody should be honest with their investors when they take their money and make sure they understand that. And then second of all, I’m curious, what you all think is a reasonable amount of time to make back your investment. I’ll make a couple of quick. I tell people, you know, three to five years, I’ll make a,

Justin McAleece:

Let me just interject in the Q and a, there’s still a bunch of questions to some people who’ve been using chat. Some people have been using Q and a talking. Yeah. There’s a ton anyway, back to you. And then to back to you, Mark, and then to Jennica.

Marc Clebanoff:

Yeah. So, so you know, a couple of things, first of all, I don’t think it’s that filmmakers are misleading investors. Well, at least not intentionally. I think most of them do just because they don’t really understand how the business works. So everything’s kind of just rooted in ideals. But I look at it two ways, first of all, two points, it’s one of the best tax write-offs. So that’s what I pitch to investors. I, you know, I reverse engineer content a little bit differently than I think a lot of people have the ability to, so I can make it slightly more risk averse. But there’s tax incentives. And I’m not talking about regional, I’m talking about actual tax benefits to it. The other thing I’ve discovered over the years of making producing and distributing films is that you don’t necessarily have to hit a home run as long as there is money trickling in at least somewhat consistently. Most people are happy. It’s when they see nothing. That’s when people get rubbed wrong.

Jennica Schwartzman:

I work with a lot of first time filmmakers over the last decade after I met Glenn Reynolds of circus, like, like road films, they, Glen sat with me three different times to go over the education before we even moved forward. And don’t ask that of him. He should not do that. I just think that there was a lot I had to ask and a lot I had to understand. And then I came to that. It was my second bigger film. And I came to that conclusion that this was my master’s program. Like you go to film school and then you leave dome school and you make movies, but you’re not done with your education. And if we can explain and get it out there to filmmakers that the first time you distribute, it is a hundred percent educational activity. You have to have a film to take to a distributor, to test for an audience, to shop for representatives, to go to distribution, to deliver the actual like content, which I think we forget is really, really hard to do deliverables for most people, because little tiny technical snags and updates and everything, it could make it a ridiculous amount of time.And then you want to go through the marketing conversations and then you make it to market. And then you have to learn PR it’s an entire master’s program to your film program. And there’s no way that we’re going to bridge that gap with a bunch of filmmakers that are going, I take this to a film festival and then somebody buys it because that’s just not going to happen for most people. And if it does, it’s not going to happen for every movie. So you might just be delaying your master’s program until your third or fourth film, but either way you have to get your masters, your Hollywood masters in order to understand what you’re doing as a filmmaker. And you can’t even figure out your brand and the store, you’re going to put out the, the IP like expansion or any of those things. Aren’t even an option until you understand how to be close to first dollar and have that money trickle in.

And it not like destroy your life that you didn’t have a big check is having the development through to the distribution arm already discussed and decided before your goal setting and putting in money to make a movie. And you, if you don’t understand the entire pipeline, then you’re not really prepared, but it’s not a bad thing. You’re just being like accepted into the program. That’s all, you just have to make a movie to get accepted. And then once you’re there, it costs you as much as it would cost you a master’s degree. And that’s so sad to say, but once you’re at the other side of it, you have these people in your corner. You can go back to Ben, you can go back to Glenn and Linda and you can say great for my next movie. What can I do better? And I’m ready to go. It doesn’t mean that they’re picking a boot B movie out of a catalog all the time. It definitely means this is what you did last time that I wish we could got, like, get you a little bit different experience. So now that you have the education, let’s, let’s do a real career. You know, you don’t make tons of money until you’re publishing is a doctor. It takes a long time until you’re at that level where you’re publishing and doing all of that stuff. So we just have a different idea of what it looks like because of false representation in media about what movies are like.

Linda Nelson:

So in the last couple of years, there’s been a huge amount of misinformation out there about self- distribution and it’s one of my biggest pet peeves right now. When somebody comes to me and say, says, I can put my own film up on Amazon. Why should I pay you 20 bucks? You know, it’s, it’s amazing how much misinformation there is out there. And as far as I’m concerned, DIY is the absolute, last thing in the world that anyone should consider. And it’s, and actually it’s getting the situation is getting worse because you know, really now, I guess you might, you might get your film up on Amazon, but there’s very little else that you can do right now. The whole kind of gatekeeper thing is really kind of moving back into place because you know, like you’re not gonna get your film on IMDB TV, or you’re not going to get your home up on on a Pluto or Peacock. It’s just not going to happen without these distributors.

Justin McAleece:

Then maybe Linda, to be aware of is like just establishing relationships, relationships long-term is going to be beneficial for you, or at least finding out who you don’t want to work with. And then like getting a better person to work with a better company to work with. Like, you’re going to have to go through that process. Eventually if you plan on being a filmmaker longterm. So like doing everything yourself all the time, although that might actually work better in the short term for one specific project, it’s probably not going to be your best bet longterm, because you’re going to have to get your beak wet and all those other, those other various sort of horizontally integrated things that you have to do to be able to distribute a movie anyway and make a movie and do an X project and all that.

Marc Clebanoff:

You’re so right about DIY. I mean, I get people all the time who are, they tell me they’re going to do their own foreign. I’m like, it took me five years to build my global network. And I’m a networking machine. You know what I mean? Like I get people all the time who are like, can you introduce me to, to be, can you introduce me to Netflix? Like these companies don’t want to deal with one-off Producers projects, right? Companies want to deal with people they know, and they want pipeline of content. They want master services, agreements. They don’t want your great indie movies. 

Daniel Bort:

The first one with 30 movies has much more leveraged than anyone else out there. And it is very important because positioning and placement is everything on these platforms. Remember you’re, you’re, you’re competing with 10,000 films up there and, and it, it really matters what we do. We make a difference, sorry,

Justin McAleece:

Did Mark just do a mic drop on us?

Sarah Marince:

I do want to get to some of these questions that we have in the Q and a box. I know we have Mark here asking what are a few ways to distribute and get sponsors to help to what about foreign rights? We did a few deals back in the eighties and nineties, but not recently. Ben, do you have anything to say about that?

Ben Yennie:

Yeah, there’s a little bit of a difference between a distributor and a sales agent and in order to get me for distributors the most practical way to do it these days is through an established sales agent like Mark or a little bit of that at me and me, but we’re much stronger North American distribution. Hey, thanks for the plug

Linda Nelson:

About that, Mark. I mean, now that we’re seeing all of these channels going global, as you had mentioned, like 2 million, all of these things, don’t you think a lot of sales agents are becoming distributors and starting to, you know, well, I don’t know. I mean, to me an aggregator is just someone you paid to put your build up on a platform and collect your money for you, which like, I don’t think is a very good idea, but you know, some people use aggregators, you know, for that purpose aggregate aggregators, don’t go to markets and do any foreign sales. So, you know, you’re missing out on a lot of that. But what I’m seeing a lot of my sales agent friends really getting into the distribution business, they’re establishing relationship with platforms like to be in Amazon and those are global. So it used to be that you would get a us distributor and then you would get a foreign sales agent. And we had to do that because if the foreign sales agent didn’t go to Cannes, there was no way for him to show me your movie. Then you had to be there and you would play you a DVD or give you a screener. But now none of that’s necessary. We can use online screeners everywhere. So I think the whole nature of the business is influx and really, really changing right now.

Justin McAleece:

Linda, let me, let me break in real quick, Sarah, Linda, you’re very right. It’s and it’s a very complicated world. One thing that we haven’t talked about at all is like, we’ve been mainly focusing on features and like there’s other types of content, obviously there’s episodic stuff. There’s, I don’t know if you can make any money off short films. A lot of people are asking that. Does anyone have a take on that, about what you would do if you were a filmmaker today, starting a project, would you do a feature? Would you do some other type of type of series like that? Okay. Anyone else?

Ben Yennie: 

I’d license an IP and make a TV show. Interesting. Okay.

Marc Clebanoff:

With a feature, you have a much clearer path, even though it’s still an uphill battle, there is a clear path to monetize a feature with a show. It’s, it’s more so on spec and more often than not, people try to readapt adapt a show into something else after the fact to try to salvage the effort. You know, the there’s a lot of myths involved in developing TV. My partner and I have been very aggressive about it recently. And it’s, you know, we’ve learned through trial and error, but it, you know, you can make movie. If you make a great movie that’s going to fit well under the market, it’ll find its way. Not like that TV, it’s much more relationship driven. Especially now as everything’s going more toward the streaming platforms, as opposed to the networks, the same thing’s happening in TV that happened in movies, it’s all getting much lower budget and it’s becoming more volume driven. So like I have a TV project right now. We developed a short form. That’s the other thing you have to be adaptable. We developed a short form series. Now we’re adapting it to traditional format. Cause one of the streamers wants it. But the streamer is only going to pay us enough per episode to basically cover half our budget, especially with COVID. So now I have to take that and go out and try to do foreign TV deals to supplement my budget. But I got a TV show that’s more or less ago, so it’s a win, but it’s nothing like it used to be.

Jennica Schwartzman:

I agree with Ben, I would license like a book series and make a feature and with the idea of creating multiple or moving into a series after the feature, because I feel like I’d want to continue a decade of investing in a world. That’s already been built by an author and a writer who really has a handle of what they’re doing and proved themselves over a series so that you know that you can take a portion of that and you already have a fan base and you have other areas you can move into with the author.

Glen Reynolds:

If you’re just starting out, I think a film is a little bit more tangible to break into. Why would you even if you’re just starting out, I, I, I think you should go make some shorts if you’re not technically, well, hold on Linda, hold on. If you’re not ready tightly, if you’re not ready yet to make a film, if you haven’t, if you’ve never made any piece of content ever, and you’ve just watched movies and you think, Oh, I can do that. You should get a camera and go up and make shorts with your friends that don’t cost anything to see, to figure it out. Then you have to go to school a little bit before you go to your dentist and friends and say, give me a hundred thousand dollars to make a movie. That’s what the problem is. Is everybody goes out and makes these movies without knowing how to make a movie.

Justin McAleece:

Glen, if your shorts really good, should you expect to be able to make money on it? The answer’s no. Right? So you want to make that so, but don’t expect to be able to make money on a shore in almost any situation you’re doing it. So you can level up exactly.

Linda Nelson:

We have $10,000 movies that make $10,000 a month.

Justin McAleece: How many?

Linda Nelson: A few. 10?

Justin McAleece:

By people that made it as the first thing that they made you think? Linda?

Linda Nelson:

Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know that you can’t compare making a short two would be true. There is no comparison to the level of commitment and the amount of work, you know, you know, if you want to make a couple shorts, but I people make 10, 15, 20 shorts. Why? I mean, you, if what you want is to make movies, you need to jump off the cliff and do it and you can make, you can make a good movie. You can make a good movie for nothing. You can.

Hunter Lee Hughes:

Another caveat here, which is that you have to be honest with yourself also about your material. It kind of reminds me of that Robin Williams line from debt again, where the guy’s asking him if he should quit smoking or not. And Robin Williams says, figure it out if you’re a smoker and be that because some material is really it’s the material determined. Some of it too, in terms of, is this material really right for a series or is it right for a feature? And I think on Linda’s points about shorts, I think some filmmakers really want to make a feature film. And then they kind of force it into being some eight to 10 minute preview of a feature film. And it doesn’t feel like a very good short film because it’s not really designed for that or meant for that. And so I think that’s a danger when you’re making that discussion. And I did want to say one thing about the splitting of the rights, because I have a little experience with that. And there is something to be careful about as a filmmaker when you split the rights and like in our film, we still haven’t. We have a sales agent specifically for UK and Ireland is still trying to put something together for that, even though our star is the biggest star in the UK. And so there’s an E and O issue with this because like, once you sign with your main distributor, your errors and emission insurance gets latched on to this, the big deal that you have. And then if a couple years later you sell a different territory through a different distributor, just there, there may be an insurance issue. So I sometimes you have to just trust the person, selling your film to sell it all around the world.

Sarah Marince:

Okay, guys, I’m going to take a quick moment. We’re going to get ready for our giveaway. We’ve been talking about so much great stuff, but I want to make sure we get this in. So for everybody who’s tuning in and listening panelists, unfortunately you can’t win. If you want to go to the shoots.video page, the shoot.video page. And if you can tell us in the chat box who displays first in Seattle, you will win our giveaway, our BH gift card. So go to the shoot, stop video page, go to Seattle, tell us who displays first, put it in the chat box. You will be our winner and I’m not calling out winners because once again, I messed it up the first time. So I will not be calling the winners today. So go ahead and throw that in there.

Justin McAleece:

Michael Barnards. Got it. Michael Barnard, former a Fresno resident. Now in LA resident. He’s got it at Awni Issa is I forget how he says his name, but a great dude up in Seattle way that I’ve worked with on doing music videos and car commercials. So yeah, Michael Barnard has got the cash. He wins 50 bucks from BH so you can get some yeah. SD cards or a microphone or something fun to do that with.

Sarah Marince:

We always end our our videos here with everyone going around just saying their name one more time and where we can find you on social media. So if anyone wants to connect or check out your website, they can go ahead and do that. So Ben, I’ll start with you, your, your name and your social or website, whatever you want to say.

Ben Yennie:

Yeah, my name’s Ben Yennie and the two places to find me are @mutinypics on all the social or @theguerrillarep on all the social and meaning pictures dot com and The Guerrilla Rep.

Hunter Lee Hughes:

Sorry about that. So my name is Hunter. I’m with FateLink and you can see check out, I guess the best place is our YouTube page. You can check out the trailer for our film, so it’s go to YouTube and then fate link.

Daniel Bort:

I can be found I have new businesses, new AVOD by the way that it handles LGBTQ content. So if you have content like that, you can, you can send it to me Daniel(at)gethappi.tv

Sarah Marince:

Very cool. And you guys can always throw your socials and everything in the chat box, as well as the people can find you there. Justin, we’re gonna skip over you for a moment. You were next to my little boss. No, go ahead. Promote yourself.

Justin McAleece:

Yeah, we got a movie coming out on the 22nd on Amazon through Jennica and little sister and that’s called Brick Madness. And if you guys want to watch it, that will be awesome. It’s super funny and great. And I’m in it and I’m not even the best part. Hopefully not by a long stretch. And and two-star video is, is the reason we are doing all this. And we could obviously go like another hour because everyone had a lot of important things to say and really wanted to get it out there. Thank you,

Jennica Schwartzman:

Hi, I’m Jennica Schwartzman with Little Sister Entertainment, little sister E N T, which is short for entertainment. So you can go to littlesisterent.com or at littlesisterENT on social. You’ll find us and I’m very responsive because I’m the face of all of it. So I will write you back. Very cool. Mark

Marc Clebanoff:

Marc Clebanoff from Odyssey Motion Pictures in LA. I put my website on there. If you want to see some of my working, going to Odyssey motion, pictures.com. Also I just produced and recently a movie, a crime drama called stakeout. It’s on to be in prime and everywhere else starts Tom Berenger and Jeremy Sumpter. And I just last week released a movie that IEP called girl lost the Hollywood story. It’s the second installment of the girl loss series. And just like the first film it’s defying all the odds it’s on Amazon prime. So you can go check that out as well.

Glen Reynolds:

Glen Reynolds with Circus Road Films. The best way to find me is just go to my website. It’s circusroadfilms.com on my social and my email are on there.

Linda Nelson:

Hi, Linda Nelson and the company is indierights. You can search on any social and it’ll come up. And if you have a film that you’d like us to consider indierights.com is our website. And there’s a submission form. We love looking at films from anybody and everybody. Oh, we don’t have any, genre specific at all, and this has been great. Thanks.

Sarah Marince:

Well, you guys were all awesome. Thank you so much for being here and sharing all of your knowledge. This was a subject and topic. I didn’t know a lot about, it’s not a world I come from. But thank you truly. Thank you for being here and I hope you all have a happy holiday and to all of our viewers, happy holidays, I guess we’ll see you after Christmas or maybe in the new year. I don’t know. I’ll have to look at my calendar, but thank you. And as always, I’m Sarah Marince @ sarahmarince.com and some of the socials. And we will see you guys next time. Thank you so much.

 

 

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