Where the Money is in Indie Filmmaking


– [Sven] This video is
brought to you by Soundstripe. Get three royalty free music tracks by clicking the link in
the video description. Here’s a guy that figured it out. – Today I wanted to talk to
you about following your dream, that dream that doesn’t
let you sleep at night. – [Sven] He’s a true renegade filmmaker, he’s a hustler, that
understands that making movies is not just self-serving art. – And I went down the rabbit hole about four or five years ago. – [Sven] If you wanna play by the rules, this video is not for you. – And there is not a way to do it. – [Sven] The film industry
is abusive to the newcomer and Alex Ferrari has navigated
the shark-infested waters for over 25 years. He’s the creator of the
legendary “Indie Film Hustle” and the author of the “Rise
of the Filmtrepreneur,” the definitive work on what
to do to make your film, not get ripped off and earn a living. (mellow melodic music) (birds twittering) – [Alex] So you read the book already? – [Sven] I listened to the book, yeah. – [Alex] Yeah. – [Sven] I never get to
finish a book anymore. – So you’re gonna do all your books? That’s good.
– That’s the first hustle, we’re actually already recording. So let me introduce you,
this is Alex Ferrari from “Indie Film Hustle.”
– Yes. – And you are watching “This Guy Edits.” So today’s episode is all gonna be about a new kind of filmmaking, that includes thinking about the back end, like what’s gonna happen
once you’ve done your film, how are you gonna actually make a profit. So I gave this book
actually to the director, that I’m working with right now, – Awesome. – and said before you do anything, because he’s now at the
stage where the film was in its first festival
and won the festival. I assume now he’s gonna be like starting to make this deal with a distributor. If you’re in the process of
making a movie right now, I think it’s an absolute must. – It’s really like a manual on how to become a filmtrepreneur,
it’s what I wanted to do and I wanted to really just
change the conversation. – In chapter one, you lay out a scenario of a typical indie film.
– Yes. – And it immediately struck with me, because I’ve been there,
I’ve directed two movies. Why don’t you start off with
what’s the traditional way for an indie filmmaker not to make money? – Okay, sure, so you get a movie, you’ve been writing in your
notebook since high school and you’re like this is my dream, this is the project that I wanna do, this is the one that’s gonna blow me up. So then you go and finally
you get the nerve up to write the script and the script is done and now you’re like okay, I’m
gonna go find money for it, I need 300,000, I can’t make
it for less than 300,000. – Show me the money. – So you make this passion piece, but then you go looking for money and for some magical reason,
someone gave them $300,000, whether it’s Mom, Dad, relatives, is it investors who don’t
understand the business? So you make this movie and it’s done, it’s shot decently, but
it has no stars in it, it’s a very broad topic, so it’s gonna be a period piece drama, so now you’re like okay,
I’m gonna submit to Sundance and I’m gonna get a distribution deal and if it doesn’t work out at Sundance, I’ll go off to South By or Tribeca or one of the other five or six big ones and you submit to all of these festivals and you wait for the email or
the call and it never comes, because the chances of
you getting that call are astronomical, I think it’s 98.5% of the films submitted to
Sundance do not get in. – Chances are you’re
not gonna get into it, you’re probably not gonna sell
it, even if you get into it. – Right. – And it’s less and less the avenue you should be relying
on to sell your movie. – Now you’re in this place,
where you owe $300,000 to your Mom, Dad,
however you got the money and then you’re like, well, what do I do? And you start making calls
to all these distributors and sending out the trailers and links and putting up packages, – My number’s 21–
(phone call disconnecting) – And you’re just getting, it’s crickets, no one’s interested, so
now you’re just desperate, so now you’re going to any distributor, that you can think of and out of 500 submissions,
you get one or two back and then they give you this predatory film distribution contract, which is industry standard basically and they’ll give you the
worst contract up front to see if you’ll bite and you’re so desperate, that you’ll bite and they’ll give you zero money up front, they will pay zero marketing for it, they will get your movie
for seven to 15 years, ’cause I’ve seen their deal memos, they’ll have $100,000 marketing caps and you will never see a dime. – What? – All you will see and all you’ll have, the wonderful feeling of is
that your movie is everywhere and you can get it on iTunes, on Amazon and you can be my movie has
been released, fantastic, you could do this yourself by the way. The goals of a lot of these
distribution companies is to acquire as many titles as they can to build up their libraries,
so that way they have power, negotiating power with the
new streaming services. If you remember back in the ’80s. – Welcome to Blockbuster Video. – You could put out a movie and if you made it for
a million or $2 million, you get it back in DVD, in foreign sales, that model has changed completely, because we have a devaluisation of media, so there’s an entire
generation growing up, that never rented.
– Yeah. – Their media is free,
– Yeah. – and that’s what they expect with Netflix and Spotify and YouTube. – So much to watch. – So much to watch. – What are sort of the first
steps that you should be doing, before you even decide what
movie you’re gonna make? – You have to ask the question, who is the final audience for my film? And there’s a core audience and then there’s spill
off audiences after that. So if someone comes out to me and says, hey, I wanna make a romantic comedy, yeah, do you have any
major stars involved? No, okay, you need to niche down, so why don’t you make that romantic comedy into a vegan romantic comedy, meaning that there is a vegan chef, that meets a barbecue pit champion and they fall in love and
all sorts of craziness, so it’s a “Romeo and Juliet,”
but vegan and meat eaters. – Oh, God! – I’ll have what she’s having. – Because there is no narrative
film like this for vegans and there’s such a huge
market, it’s a massive market, you start creating a romantic comedy based around a niche audience that you personally can cultivate and you can start
building up a relationship with that audience. – And this is the other thing that you should think
about is authenticity, like if I would be making
a vegan chef movie, – Right.
– I would probably not be able to really
connect with the audience. – I don’t eat tofu, so do you have like a tofu-flavored chicken
you can substitute in for me? – I would always go after something that you’re passionate about,
so if you’re a skateboarder, or a surfer, a carpenter, a gamer, the niche is the most
powerful marketing you can do. So if you’re scanning
through Netflix or Hulu, or wherever you consume your content and you see “Avengers” and you
see the next big Disney movie and the Pixar and all these
other big studio projects, the second some movie comes along, that is something you’re passionate about, whether it’s a skateboarding documentary or a racing documentary,
because you love cars, whatever it is, that cuts through $100
million worth of marketing and everything else falls away and that jumps to the top of your list. (light melodic music) So I just released the
trailer of my new movie, “On the Corner of Ego and Desire,” which is a movie that I made at Sundance, Best of Show Meets the Player
for independent filmmakers. – [R.B.] We made it, guys,
ground zero of Sundance. – We’re gonna be on that screen one day. – What should we do first?
– Atticus Bookshop is where all the cool filmmakers hang out, so that’s where you’re gonna
find the next Lars von Trier. – And I actually instantly watched it, because I’ve been to
Sundance, I’m a filmmaker, it absolutely rang true to me. Is anything during the movie that you should be doing
as a filmtrepreneur? – You already should’ve been thinking about ancillary products, where the movie is not the main way
you’re generating revenue, but you have other ancillary
products, services, so that could be behind the
scenes, making of documentary, that could be courses on how you made it, in the vegan chef movie,
I’ll use as an example again, why wouldn’t you write
in the movie somewhere, that the chef, the vegan
chef is down on his luck and the barbecue pit master happens to be an internet
marketing specialist and they start building online courses about how to make a vegan chef
and that’s how it blows up and it goes viral and stuff like that. Well, you’re already inserted
in the viewer’s mind, oh, online vegan chef
movie and by the way, you can buy the course that
they have made in the movie, the course is on how to become a vegan or how to cook like vegans, that’s something that that audience wants, so it doesn’t have to be just about selling an individual product, you could be selling a service, you could be selling consulting, you know, you need help in post, I’ll
post supervise for you, how else can I serve the
community that I’m going after? – Talking about an example in the book, where somebody did a horror movie and then he designed a VHS box. – Beautiful, oh! Drew Marvick did a great movie
called “Pool Party Massacre,” it’s like a low budget horror movie and it’s a great story of
how he put it together, but he was thinking like a filmtrepreneur, where he’s like I’m gonna go out and buy VHS cassettes from thrift shops, he took the VHSs, took
all the goo off of it, put his own label on it and recorded his movie over “Pinocchio.” The cover and the artwork, he hired a guy who did
artwork in the ’80s, he understood his niche so well, because he is a card-carrying
member of that horror niche and that audience loves physical media. – There needs to be other avenues, – Correct. – that are going directly to you, as opposed to a middle man. – And you have to diversify, the more revenue streams you
have coming in, the better, ’cause if one drops,
the other one picks up and it’s business 101, diversification. – Yeah, talk a little bit about being active in
the social media world, even if you don’t try to
become an influencer per se, but you’re using it to create
a community for your film. – If you’re providing
value to the audience through these new social media platforms and this website that you’re gonna create, you’re branding yourself,
it’s either yourself or your company, you can
choose one of the two. Then you need to start
providing value to them and how you provide value to
them is three different ways, you provide value through educating, entertaining or inspiring. You have to start
building up your audiences through all these social media platforms. The problem with a lot of filmmakers and content creators that use social media is that they rely on the media, the social media platform
that they are famous on, but when you’re working
in someone else’s sandbox – Yeah.
– and you’re like, you know, and it happened to YouTubers all the time, if the algorithm changes,
your revenue goes down. – So all this sort of already
indicates, that community, – Huge.
– is becoming a bigger and bigger part in indie filmmaking? – Correct, you need to create a hub and that hub would be
a website of some sort and that’s where you
drive everyone to traffic. I have my own streaming service called Indie Film Hustle TV dedicated to, surprise,
filmmakers, screenwriters, content creators, about
content, courses, education, movies about making movies providing an immense amount
of value to my audience, but curating what they want and that will be the
future without question. – What’s the most important thing you need from your audience? – Email is the most
powerful thing you can do, it is still the most powerful way you can get to your audience. – If you don’t own the
email from your audience, you don’t own the relationship. – This has to be a revolution, there has to be a different way of thinking about filmmaking, because nothing pisses me off more than seeing a filmmaker
being taken advantage of or they pick that one shot
at bat and they strike out and they’re gone.
– They’re paralyzed. – And there’s no reason for it, everything is available to us right now, we just have to do the work
and start thinking differently. – It’s that mindset of hustling is what makes you a good filmmaker. – You’ve built your online business now, so you have a business
and the feeling you get from having that business is fantastic. – That’s the best feeling. – You are helping people,
– Yeah. – providing value to them,
– Yes. – In many ways changing people’s
lives through your work, no, but it’s the truth
and I know as creators, as people behind this side of the fence, you don’t believe it,
you’re like I’m just a guy in a room somewhere doing
a video or doing a podcast, but when I meet people outside, I know you meet people
outside in the real world too, when they come up to you and go, man, it was this podcast
that changed my life, it was this podcast that got me off my ass to make my first movie, that you are impacting
people around the world, it’s fuel for the soul. – [Sven] Now I cannot recommend
Alex’s book more highly, I keep telling my directors to go read it, because as filmmakers, we are responsible for finding our audience, no one else is. I’m gonna show you one
hustle on how to get the “Rise of the Filmtrepreneur”
for free in just a moment, but first I wanna thank
Soundstripe for their support, you can get three free music tracks from a variety of
playlists, plus 50% discount on a future purchase by
using the code, THISGUYEDITS, they provide royalty free tracks with arguably some of the
best licensing agreements, because they let you use
sounds in your film and video whenever and however you want. Based in the music capital, Nashville. – Is the intro sound
okay, is it very varied? – [Sven] They only employ pro musicians and recording engineers
for authentic music. (mellow melodic music) So grab your three free tracks by clicking the link in the description. Now here’s some options for you to get your hands on Alex’s book, number one, sign up for
the Audible free trial by using my link, search for “Rise of the
Filmtrepreneur” to pick his book, cancel your trial, but
that book is yours to keep. – [Alex] Filmmakers need to
take back control of their films and how they generate revenue from them. – [Sven] Also if you
check out his podcast, episode 365, he reads
the first two chapters and adds more commentary
on the subject matter, link in the description. Thanks for watching and happy hustling. (mellow melodic music) – [Alex] The day of handing over your film to a predatory film distributor, ’cause you believe there’s
no other choice is over. (mellow melodic music)

66 Comments

  • "Indie-film-hustler" Alex Ferrari knows how to make a movie and turn a profit.

    Get 3 music tracks free: https://thisguyedits.com/soundstripe3
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    You can get this book as a free audio book by signing up for the Audible Free Trial here: https://thisguyedits.com/audible. Search for "Rise of the Filmtrepreneur"
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  • i love this channel

  • Nice!

  • Amazing episode!! Thank you so much!

  • thanks for the info

  • That's definitely interesting. I'm just starting out and making shorts then hoping they'll connect and become viable seems like an intimidating crapshoot.

  • this was a great video and I learn allot thanks for that, I do art and 2D animation by myself, music I'm still learning.

  • I've started a screenplay on a vegan chef who meets this sausage loving girl. Do I give Alex credit for it?

  • Thanks for the video! It's really interesting to hear from someone who's managed to become financially independent despite a track record of extreme mediocrity.

  • Film Making is my passion
    But my parents always say NO to me about Film Making

    I just hope they understand what I love and what I believe. They are money oriented and they only worried I will not get job other than in Film Industry if I'm focusing on Film Making (you know, the typical Asian Parents. Well not all parent in Asia like that, but my parent are … They only say Yes if they understand it)

  • I met Drew Marvick at Cult Classic Convention at the Gore Noir booth, last weekend. Really nice guys and told me that he was doing well with his movie. I should see if he wants to come on my YouTube show for an interview.

  • If you got 300k for your budget then you are a wizard.

  • I don’t think people should be expecting to make any money off of short films. The VHS release is cool because it fits and doesn’t interact with the story at all, but the point about them making cooking tutorials in a film specifically just to sell cooking tutorials outside of the film sounds god awful. Please just make things true to you with the intent of making the film as good as it can be for it’s own sake, not for the sake of making money.

  • Thanks for this. Excellent video, great interview, and feeling a bit more encouraged to pursue my own hustle..

  • Great info guys! Thanks for the video but I'd like to touch on the email part for the younger audience.

    I've been in online marketing for over 10 years (recently switched into streaming/entertainment). I agree, generally, email is the best contact info you can have for your audience. But if your audience is gamers and mouth-breathers they don't use email AT ALL aside from verifying it to create accounts for whatever they are signing up for.

    So with this particular audience that hardly ever uses email… what the hell are you to do? You can get them to follow your socials but that's crowded as hell and depending on the timing they may never see your posts. And unless you follow each and every one of them directly, you cant slide into them DMs (nor would you want them to because some social media profiles are considered personal & private).

    The answer is Discord. Especially if they are gamers. I'm going to copy & paste their description of themselves: Discord is the #1 voice, video, and text chat for hanging out with friends, near and far. Discover an awesome new way to chill with friends online. Send GIFs and Images. Over 250 Million Users. Chat with Friends. Start a Group. Cross-platform works on mobile.

    Anyhow it's free for everyone and you can set up your own thing, servers are also discoverable so you can get people coming in from the app itself. You can @everyone like sending out an email blast/newsletter. You can also talk to people in private messages. It's a very close and personal way of communicating with your audience when your audience does not use email at all. Anyhow hope that helps someone.

    Thank you guys for the very helpful video! Getting into a niche has always been important! (I apologize for sounding like an infomercial 😂😂😂)

  • Extraordinary. We here in Venezuela are making movies with a lot of limitations…and one of them it´s the way to make it profitable. We can actually access the national movie theaters, by law, for 2 weeks…but it´s too difficult to obtain some revenue that way, because the percentage we receive it´s minumum….about 15% of the tickets.
    Would be nice to know how to sell ir in other markets or make it profitable in other ways.

  • Keep Scorsese, Tarantino and Kurosawa on your mind and make your project go alive.

  • Indie Filmmakers (who do it right) are about to start blowing up the Box Office and their bank accounts. Never been a better time to be a fast, nimble, knowledgeable, independent filmmaker!!! Keep up the hustle!

  • Indie Film Hustle, great and very helpful channel. Eventually I'd love to get his new book.

  • This shit is some dope insight!!

  • This video is amazing! killer killer content. Ive been following indie film hustle for years now. They have the dopest indie filmmaking content. Thanks for this guys. SO from johannesburg, south africa!

  • 💲

  • It's a bit like underpants gnome logic.

    Step 1. Collect underpants (make movie)
    Step 2. …
    Step 3. PROFIT! Get it?!

    If all you have are steps 1 and 3… then it's a pipedream.

    I look at this hustle thing as being the logical evolution of how Roger Corman and his ilk worked in their golden years. They did not make the movie until they essentially closed the deals enough that money (profits, that is) was basically in their accounts. And when I type "make movie" I mean, they did not even have scripts. They essentially just had a cool poster that they went around selling for a few hundred thousand bucks. It was their market research. If distributors thought it was worth that much for the cover art then it meant the movie got made.

    Ok. You got my curiosity. I spent an audible credit on the book. Let's see how much more is in it.

  • YES! MY MAN ALEX WOOHOO People are noticing!

  • Thanks! Really helpful. Btw Harmony Korine did that thing with VHS for his film Trash Humpers in 2009. I got a tape with Christmas Evil that was taped over and he also hand painted over the original cover so it's true, couldn't not buy that!

  • Alex Ferrari! I'm gonna dig up my Broken DVD and watch it again.

  • I've been listening to his podcast for a long time and I feel like he provides a lot of value and insightful informations, but, at the same time, I feel like this idea of costant "hustling and grinding" can be really toxic. First of all it puts the creator in the mindset that they are never doing enough and constantly need to do more and be better. I can see it very easily making someone's life miserable if taken to the extreme that he's constantly talking about. And also I feel like it is a very negative state of mind.

  • Great but I hope we won't end up in a world where every director/filmmaker has to be a salesman/ businessman. We'd be losing many valuable voices.

  • This didn’t tell us anything…

  • My first movie got one of these distribution deals. It took $40,000 of my own money to make the movie and the distributor paid me $300 for it.

  • this sounds a lot more like a business course than making films
    shouldn't you only focus on making a good film, and let people see how good you are ?

    i swear all this stuff about have "a star" is very American, i watch a lot of foreign films where i go off the director and the story rather then, oh look tom cruise

  • Great Video this is an episode and collaboration that makes a lot of sense I'll have to check out the book one day always an enjoyable watch on this channel while getting educated

  • Two of my favorite indie guys in one video, great episode!

  • Aye. He knows his stuff.

  • Nice great video and great information, Thanks!

  • Thank you very much for this video! It was inspiring as well as informative.

  • Great video and tips! Thanks guys!

  • Sorry but what was the point in the end? where is it? nailing the target audience correctly?

  • Hustling… or, as Calvin Coolidge advocated “persistence” !

  • Practical question – I mostly use “classical” music in my work (from Baroque thru Romantic) – and it seems like a number of services offer the selections I am looking for (probably recorded by Eastern European musicians to avoid royalties with Western orchestras) but I am not sure they get passed the YouTube censures who just assume that it was tracked from an unauthorized recording.

    What are the best options?

  • What a horrible advice

  • Your channel is still one of the best – thanks for taking the time to create these vids, man.

  • I recently read Alex's book, "Filmtrepreneur" and it's really great. Love seeing Chris Ramsay's hands in another vid too 🙂

  • I like to think Alex started this channel and hired this guy to pretend like its his

  • To be honest I don’t really like this advice. I don’t doubt this is how you make money, but it feels so corporate. If I want corporate, I go to the big labels because they have the budget, if I want indie, I’m hoping that the script was written out of passion instead of what markets the best.

  • Great episode

  • I got whiplash seeing the poster of Pool Party Massacre on your thumbnail

  • It's NOT about the MONEY…

  • I released my first feature in 2010 and it got distributed worldwide (15 different countries), all well-known distributors including pay per view and airlines, and I think I got something like $70,000 return from a $200,000 35mm Film Project. I barely had any footage to edit and it was a project way too big for this small a budget. It took me 2 years to get the investment and I also put myself in debt which I spent 2 years recovering from. I was so traumatized by the experience I just worked on my craft for the last 9 years making shorts and doing theater. Finally gained the courage to make my second film and I made it for $30,000 this time. Because of all the digital technology now, I can make a film of equal quality but for a fraction of the cost. Getting funding took a few months this time around (Mainly friends and people I met at film fests). And I'm getting ready to release it soon. I sort of wish I was born in this generation, filmmakers have it so much easier now. The only downside is that the festivals are probably ridiculously flooded with films.

  • Vegan romantic comedy lol

  • Alex brings on a lot of insightful guests during his podcast but his mindset of only making movies a specific way is a bit ridiculous. The most important thing you should worry about is making something you think is great and getting it in the hands of the right people. Please for fucks sake do not make a movie just to launch a vegan cookbook website

  • All the movie clips was so distracting, couldn’t watch whole video.

  • Amazon (who owns Audible) needs to lose their "add a credit card number for your protection" BS.

  • This video INSPIRED ME !

  • I wonder if there's possible to do something with $4000 yearly wage for three, living in not so developed country with barely zero practical experience in film making (I have some theory knowledge at least)

  • It's the same with music. I released tons of tracks, some original and others were remixes of well known artists, during the 90's. I had my own independent label so made okay money. If I had gone to a deal and let them press the vinyl there' no way I could police the amount pressed and sold, would have been getting a shitty percentage, and no power of sleeve design, artists and style of music. It's hard to make money on sales now, same with films, very difficult to make any money back from your investment.

  • This guy has some great knowledge, I'm thinking about picking up the book but holy shit is that a terrible cover.

  • Problem I have with indy film hustle is that unlike this channel – it has barely any views especially in relation to the amount of subs. 40k subs and views mostly in the low hundreds makes me think hmmm…

  • I use to hire this guy to color grade my music videos. He has great work and really likes to help film makers for sure.

  • Alex is of Cuban descent – once he was picked on by a customer because of his heritage and Alex's boss told him "In America, it doesn't matter where you're from or the color of your skin – the only color that matters is money". Alex Ferrari is a godsend to indie filmmakers – he took a ton of shrapnel in the industry and showed us his wounds – he's shared his experiences thru his podcast – Indie Film Hustle (which is free to download btw) and begs us not to make the same mistakes he did – he's a genuinely altruistic individual – a pure human being who cares about the little guy – I can see the capitalist in him which doesn't bother me at all – we all need to make a buck and Alex knows how to monetize his skills – I haven't seen any of his films and I don't know if he's a good storyteller or not – all I care about is his Indie Film Hustle podcast which I've listened to and gain tons of knowledge – all for free. Thanks Alex.

  • I don't have enough money to do any of this. I don't know anyone that has any money to do this.

  • Great video with useful tips, thanks. FYI it's a really grating sound when the you say the word 'niche'! 5:36, 6:03, 6:33 — it's a French word so the French pronunciation should be respected, just like with 'rendezvous' or 'boudoir'.

  • Is everyone's parents giving them $300,000? My dad yelled at me when I spent my own money on a RED.

  • Tbh I don't like this way of thinking. I feel this pushes more capitalist ideas than creative ideas.

  • This is the kind of information I've been starving for. I will excitedly purchase Alex's book. I hope it is as insightful as he is in this video. Given that I resonate wholeheartedly with his example of staying up at night wondering how to sustainably produce narrative films, I'd say he has a point about targeting a niche…

  • spot on amigo !

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