Hello again, Reddit. We may have met before when I posted this mildly viral moment: https://www.reddit.com/r/Filmmakers/comments/c6gs14/when_i_was_12_i_wrote_george_lucas_a_letter/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x
So here's "George Lucas guy" back to answer any and all of your questions about how I made THE LAST WHISTLE, available on iTunes, Amazon, and DVD.
I didn't submit to any big film festivals, I didn't shoot with Red or Alexa, and I didn't give up when a more experienced producer told me I would fail. Moreover, I broke just about every rule in the book, and disobeyed most of the traditional advice nuggets in the process.
Feel free to ask me about working with Les Miles, Friday Night Lights' Brad Leland (Buddy Garrity), Parks and Rec's Jim O'Heir (Jerry Gergich), or any of the amazing actors involved. Moreover, feel free to ask about how I raised the money, how we found a distributor, and why I didn't submit to any big festivals.
EDIT: Wow, I didn't think this would draw so much interest. Will be logging off for a bit, but will be back on to answer whatever pops up later. Thank you for all y'all's support. If you want to hear me seriously ramble about this stuff, my book is on Amazon ("Rebel With A Crew", not without). Just if you're really interested. Not self promo here. Some of the most popular questions have to do with financing and career advice, so browse the below if that's where yours fit. And thank you all, even the trolls, for a fun afternoon.
I'm a film major in college and not enough professors talk about how you make money with filmmaking.
How did you go about making back your money and even making a profit? I assume a lot of it was from ticket sales? But how did you manage to get your film into theaters that people would go to?
There are lots of things you can and can't control when it comes to making a profit. Our keys were:
-Keep budget low, even for a small movie. Reach profit sooner as a result.
-Get as many influencers as we can, especially since we can't get stars. The influencers will drive audience better than ads and so forth when release happens.
-Make a movie that audiences will want, rather than a movie that you would want. Put the audience in the passenger seat, rather than the trunk.
Thanks for this. Why didn't submit it for any big festivals? Is it because of finance or morals or some other reason? Also, how'd you get Jim O'Heir? I loved him in Parks and Rec.
Good question. Most people think, when I first tell them this, that we didn't submit because we weren't good enough to play in festivals. But the film has actually done solidly with critics, so that wasn't our issue, as I expected. The issue is that with huge fests like Sundance, they have started taking a majority of star power films in their program. What was once made for the little guys is now mostly for the medium players. On top of that, the submissions closed as we were nearing the end of post-production, and I didn't have interest in waiting up to three months to submit to a festival. We went directly to sales, and played festivals for our grassroots audience.
Did you have to give up any percentage of your film to have name actors?
Of course. We were working on a SAG ULB level, so points were crucial for both actors and producers. But surprisingly, points aren't too valuable to bigger actors, because they're so used to them getting swallowed up that they'd rather just have money in hand. Myself and the other producers put all our payment in back end points just so everyone would trust that the points actually meant something. That's a great tactic, albeit a starving-artist one.
How did you get funding? How long did it take and what was the process?
This is a frequent question, because that's really the key, right? Once you have the money, all the doors open. But often, it's a sign that some part of the project is lacking from a business perspective, which is why it's so important to have a strong business plan along with your film plan. The two plans are worlds apart, too.
-Business plan: Numbers, numbers, numbers. Projections, expectations, and case studies. The case studies can be very hard to find, since only box office numbers get reported, so we had to dig deep, and I had to do a lot of research.
-Film plan: strong script, as known of an actor as possible, and past work or a sizzle reel.
What information would you present to investors that would convince them to invest in the film? Would it simply be how the film will bring profit and if so how would you "prove" that?
Well you can't prove profit in any business situation, so the key is to have comps, and similar situations. Since you likely won't have prior work, you have to find those elsewhere where you can. Video on demand numbers are hard, so I picked up the phone and started calling other indie filmmakers to ask them how much they made, and put together a pitch based on those numbers.
At the end of the day I said, "I see bad movies making $100K on budgets of $250K, so if we make this movie for half of that, I think we can break even. But I also want to make it good, I want that very badly."
What are some situations where you found yourself needing to find a budget friendly alternative to how things would be traditionally done with a bigger budget?
Other than acting talent, what do you wish you could have spent more money on?
My top choice here would be either extras or marketing. We had to be incredibly resourceful with marketing, spending money where it could go viral rather than where it would bring us a consistent customer flow (see Pat Green's Til The Last Whistle Blows). With marketing money, you almost have a set calculation of how many purchases you'll get per dollar, and that can be all the difference when it comes to a movie that does well versus one that doesn't.
Extras really provide life, and allow you to have bigger spaces and locations. I like to set films in places with character, and for audiences to see the whole spaces, and that can be hard without fifty costumed extras!
What would you most like to tell us that no one ever asks about?
Love this question. Gimme a sec to think about it while I answer some of the easier ones!
What’s your history with screenwriting? What would you do differently if you could go back to when you started film school? And what benefit did going to USC give you, from a writing standpoint, that you don’t think you would have gotten if you didn’t go to school and wrote on your own?
Started screenwriting as soon as I found out what Celtx was, and for a few years before that on Word. Didn't really know what it was until Celtx, and was writing scriptments before then.
I think what I would do differently is only because of all that I learned doing what I did. I learned as much as I could and didn't waste a second. Don't have many regrets, having done it that way, but I do think I barked up the wrong trees pretty frequently. I would have loved to have interned with a distribution company or a sales agent, rather than large development companies.
I was exposed to so many scripts and writers at USC that I was really able to hone where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to create.
Did you set out to make a movie based on your Christian beliefs or did that just happen along the way? I hope that doesn't come off as negative, just curious if your original goal was always to make a faith-based movie.
I think it's hard to make a move that's somewhere between gritty and faith based. I wanted a story of redemption, but not because of a particular deity or religion. I wanted whoever saw the film to see themselves or someone they knew in the character. When it comes to marketing though, they go full one way or the other. So the marketing came out heavier Christian than the film itself.
What camera/ gear did you use?
We shot on the Canon c300 mk ii, because it would shoot 4K, but without heating up or exhausting a memory card. We also had a RED for a few of the slow-mo football shots, a drone for some football shots, and an a7s for the bird's eye shots. But the c300 was 95% of the movie. Would highly recommend, because REDs can be so heavy and will kill most editing systems, it just wasn't worth it when our audience doesn't know the difference.
Did Les Miles have ridiculous contractual requirements? Had to ship in a sampling of sod from Death Valley every day while filming? Start every day with an enthusiastic clap, fingers spread just right to avoid injury?
But really, was it awesome working with Les?
Working with Les was an incredible honor, being a Louisiana-born boy myself. He is a class act, all around. Only made us ship sod from Death Valley on Monday's!
What would you say you look for most when looking at the Music Composers?
And what kind of a service (if any) did you use to find your composers (if you used any)?
My composer was a good friend I met at USC, Logan Austin. (That's the other thing that film school is great for, is making connections.) I look for someone who does good comps (i.e. samples), and who likes the same styles I do (Explosions in the Sky, Michael Giaccino, et al)
What is your background like? Do you have any formal education or are you self-taught?
I went to film school at USC, but in critical studies, so lots of film watching in school and film making on my own. Have to shout out Indie Film Hustle too, because I learned tons about indie distribution from Alex.
I graduate this year and want to make something as a capstone.
For making a larger project out of college, especially on a lower budget scale, what do you recommend?
A TV pilot or web series Micro budget feature Spec commercial / high concept short
You want something you can sell, and something you'd want to do over and over again as your career in case that's where you get pigeon holed. Hopefully those two things are the same, but if they aren't, it's a tough decision. Micro budget feature is still the easiest to sell, but spec commercial could be the most profitable to create a career from. I'd suggest checking out the career paths of Damien Chazelle, Rawson Thurber Marshall, and Jon Chu.
did you break all the rules?
The rules I didn't break:
-Always shoot a master.
-Treat everyone well, no matter who they are.
-Don't lose your temper.
-Make an amazing trailer.
-Sound is 50% of your film, if not more.
-Put your audience in the passenger's seat, rather than the trunk.
-Did I mention safety first?
I just saw the trailer.
Is this a christian propaganda film? I only ask cause it looks like one of the better one's I've seen.
That was actually a distributor plan, because they wanted to advertise to fans of When The Game Stands Tall. We're more secular, and would have been advertised like Friday Night Lights if I hadn't written a somewhat happier ending. But also, that audience is easier to market to, and has been successful for us, so I'm not unhappy with it. I'd like to make movies that make people happy rather than depressed or bored!
I was skimming over your post history just now and by the looks of it, you clawed your way out of a pretty bad place. What was it like back then?
Whoa! Detective work. Yeah, I had to get a lot better at everything, including Reddit!
My fiancee tells me all the time that when we started dating, I only listened to sad music. So I'm sure she was a big help in that phase, but also, I just had to be cool with being sad sometimes, seeing my work not turn out great. It sucked big time and I took the full brunt of it.
I hear Jim O'Heir is just exceptionally nice. What was he like on set?
Also, congratulations! A dream fulfilled is good for all of us.
Very kind, you and him!
Jim was absolutely hilarious. I've had lots of improv fun over the years, and he knew every single twist and turn. Just genuinely brilliant with his comedic talent, and ability to play to a room. He knows himself and he knows what people know him as, and he can flip a switch and be funny in either place.
Follow him on IG, he's very personable on there.
I'm such a huge fan of the co-stars on the NBC mockumentaries. Whether it's Jim or Aubrey Plaza or Chris Pratt or Retta, they were all great all those years ago.
Hi there, what sort of case studies did you use, with regards to The Last Whistle?
Just replied to Moses Snake with this one... a lot of it was checking things like how many ratings certain films had, where they ranked and what streamers had licensed them, and calling up filmmakers to ask them what to watch out for
What do you do as a friend of someone that has their own business but their product is mediocre at best and is also not something you're really interested in but you still want to be supportive?
If they're the kind of person who can handle constructive criticism, give it to them. If they aren't, nothing you can say would ever help them and so it's not your responsibility!
Congrats! What did you use for audio equipment?
Hired an experienced audio pro for that one, John Carter. Met him at a talent incubator. Audio equipment and someone who knows how to use it is not a place to cut costs.
With a rating of 4.8 at IMDB. I'm wondering, exactly which films did it out perform? I'm not hating or anything, just genuinely curious since that's kind of a low rating.
Lots of folks have mentioned IMDb. It was 6.3 or something until last week. IMDb rating isn't a great indicator of how much money a movie makes.
Hey man! Congrats!
I make indie rock music in my bedroom - any tips on getting it to the ears of some film makers? Not looking to make money, just want to see it go to use.
Send it my way and I'll let ya know if I ever need some indie rock!
My other advice would be to make friends who are in your position, but in the film world.
Hi Rob! What did you think of being portrayed by a brilliant young extra in Progidy?
PS: I watched The Last Whistle when it came out and was extremely impressed with the cinematography and production values for your first feature film. Will definitely be checking out your future projects (and I’m sure Logan will promote them to me anyway)
Hah! I had forgotten about this. Would love to hear how you prepared for this role. Appreciate it, Nick.
Wait, you have famous actors and a budget of $100,000? How does that math work or did they do it for a low price?
We had to go through a lot of no's to find the ones who really believed in us, although they still did make nice profit. Lots of roles too can be seen by agents as stepping stools to higher paying studio fare. Lots goes into it.
I'm currently going thru something similar. Graduated from film school last year and thru a hookup, had a chat with a big producer in England (I too am from England.) He told me that I just have to do it - get gear, start shooting. So I set up a company and we'll see where it goes from here.
Finished a new script which we'll be making. Hopefully I'll see ya in a couple of years!
How do you make contacts without having any contacts? How do you retain contacts without pestering? How do you prove your idea and film is worth pursuing and will be worthwhile business venture for producers and agents?
Of course, feel free to message if you need any added help. Script is everything, so make sure it's as good as possible.
The key is all about WIFM WIFY, (what's in it for me/you). If you can find someone that'll do a tit-for-tat, you'll start building your contacts. If they're too big for you, or don't need anything from you, you never would've been worthwhile anyway.
Oh, and I pester like heck. They still pick up the phone.
The last question is the hardest part. It's different for every single one you come across.
You seem a little bitter towards the whole industry the more and more I read this thread, even shitting on film festivals that are loved by many. Has going through this process made you a little more cold overall?
Hope I haven't been too negative! Just realistic. My survival instincts kind of start to kick in when I talk about making your way to where to want to be. -- I think I actually really enjoy having a look on the true behind the scenes of all this, having it all right in front of me, the curtain pulled back. But boy, there are certainly parts that can be very depressing. I try to stay above it.
You probably won’t see my comment but, I have several movie ideas I’ve been working through in my head . Where should I start?
I see you. Write a treatment and an outline, then a script if those two feel like they're working!
What was it like working with Les Miles? I was at LSU when he coached so I’m interested in hearing things about him most people don’t know.
Will try to think of more!
Holy Shoot, thank you so much for doing this, it really couldn't have come at a better time. I'm super late, so I hope you're still answering questions.
So right now I'm a senior and it's about that time that I decide on a major for college. I'm considering something in film/digital production, and I'm just wondering what your path was through film school. Just kind of like what was it like, and was it worth it? Because it doesn't seem like you're guaranteed a job right out of college, and with the rising cost of higher education that's a pretty big risk. I was considering majoring in a more "stable" pathway and freelancing/minoring in film, but if you want to be a filmmaker, do you think going all in on film school is the only option?
I'm also curious what you did before film school. Like in high school, what did you do? Did you make any films, or did you mostly focus on learning how to operate a camera and editing software and such. I'm just not sure what to do and my point in time. A part of me wants to focus on producing films but another part of me wants to just learn more techniques, because if I'm being honest I'm still a beginner in many aspects of my film making.
Also, going out of college, how likely is it to "make" film making a career. I'm just wondering if there's some sort of path to where let's say I work for a news broadcast station while continuing to study and learn more about making movies so that while I'm waiting for a big break I can be able to make enough money to afford to live.
Sorry for the massive ramble, I'm just kind of in a tough spot where I want to pursue film making but just worried it will end in years wasted of my life. I think the past three paragraphs can be summed up with a simple question (which would likely be easier for you to answer) What was your path from graduating high school to where you are now and how attainable is that for everyone who goes through film school? I'm really just curious about the risk factor you took through your path in learning about film making.
Thank you so much for reading my massive rant. I hope you can respond!
You caught me at the end of my first session! I'll come back later.
I would say that film school is not the only option, and that you're right, a film degree can be risky. For transitioning into producing, you start in an agency and work your way up, but to be an artist, that's tougher. Film school was good for me as an artist, but definitely financially tough.
In high school I made films and wrote way more than I learned about cameras, although I did self teach that too. Wish I had done more of the latter, but that's just me.
The path is circuitous, and full of other people that are all on it, so I would suggest finding a more stable path, because I was hoping even this path would be more stable, and it hasn't been.
Firstly, congratulations! Could you provide a brief breakdown on how the 100k was used? I'm curious to see how money is spent on movies with smaller budgets. No need to go into great detail - just something like x amount for actors, y amount for equipment, etc. Thank you, and keep making movies!
Of course! Basically, a fourth to a third for actors, a fourth for lodging and travel, a fourth to a third for equipment and crew, and the rest for lots of things like software, legal fees, and marketing.
I'm a video guy too, would eventually love to produce a movie. (You based out of Atlanta by any chance...?) Congratulations on all your success!
On another comment you mentioned you have an audience. I'm finding that these days, having an audience = having power in the media world. I'm currently running two YouTube channels to try to build that audience to get to my next step - whatever it may be.
My question is, how did you build an audience to actually make a movie for?
I tried with youtube, and vine, and all those other ways, and just never succeeded. However, when I showed feature length stuff to neighbors and local friends, they were excited about it. So I built my audience regionally. I didn't burn bridges after high school, and stayed connected with my community after leaving for college. They were my grassroots audience in the end. Probably only one to five thousand people, which doesn't hold a stick to my friends with millions of subs, but it's all I had and did my best with it.
Was there any particularly cool gear you would like to tell us about, especially in the camera/filming department?
All of my favorite gear was stuff that accomplished something expensive-looking for cheap, when used efficiently. My favorites: a rail-based track (rather than a dolly), Falcon Eyes lighting panels, and... hm, I'll reply if I think of more. Those two for sure though.
How would you recommend improving dialogue in a script?
I find writing plot lines much easier than crafting engaging dialogue. Any tips?
Co-writers can be very helpful for that, if you realize your weakness there. I also like to just listen to how people speak. I watch things with subtitles and imagine it's script dialogue. It's usually super cheesy, so good for you wanting to avoid that!
If you are still around, please tell me about your influencer marketing strategy. How many did you use? What's the average sale numbers per influencer? What's the average amount paid to each influencer? Anything important we need to know about this strategy?
I'm still around, just doing my best... my influencer strat is to cast them, rather than pay them as sponsors.
Howd you find a distributor? How many theatres was it realesed in?
My distribution journey is one that I try to share with as many people as possible. While people who acquire movies aren't always willing to pick up the phone, if you can find someone who works in acquisitions, it can be a huge help. I spoke early on with the company that ended up distributing us, and they gave me some great advice before I had even filmed a single frame. So when it came time for distribution, they were first in line and had the best opportunity.
I'm about to make a documentary myself.
Congrats on the success! I'd love to watch the film.
In terms of the plan and distribution, how did you approach all of it? Did you run ads? Gain recognition? That's the biggest part in getting a return for the film. Letting people know you exist.
Funding is not going to be an issue for me all, I got lucky with this one guy who wants to make this film happen. I am just his eyes and hands for it.
We are thinking Netflix, but also really difficult considering small team and Netflix's camera requirements / post production process for a documentary.
If we want to, we may just go that route, but that post production flow is a pain in the arse. So that leads me to the next question, how did you find people / crew?
We did a lot of cold calls and used mutual connections to reach acquisitions folks. It's a hard grind for sure.
Good for you for finding funding!
Lots of my crew came from USC, and more from my hometown. It was an effort put together by people I had come up the ranks with, and had hired on smaller projects beforehand. I spent every year of college building that team.
Congrats on your work. Rock Chalk to Les Miles.
I’m 24 in LA. Wrapping up a Director’s Assistant gig. Just finished writing an original feature over the last 11 months. We’re shooting in two weeks.
Realistically I could make this on 10 grand. I know the distribution game once the film is done.
What kind of investors were you going to? Development Execs? Agencies? How did you land your money?
All private. Did my best to go to Development execs and got a few pitch meetings, but they all scoffed at my lack of work. Wish I had gotten to do Director Assisting. Mind if I ask who it was for?
And keep in mind, distribution costs (like E&O and lawyers) can be at least a couple thousand. Can be very easy to run out of money.
what's a summed up timeline of everything from start to end?
July 2017 - My capstone film loses financing and sends me back to drawing board.
Aug - Rebel Without A Crew show hosts casting call, I write the script for it. They reject me.
Sept- Rejected and take the script to USC collaborators. They encourage me to write and start investor deck.
Oct to Dec - First investor no's, more writing and work on the deck.
Jan 18 - First investor and a few actors come on board.
Mar - Actors and another investor.
Apr - Final investor and final actors.
May - Shoot
Summer - Edit
Fall - First Festival, Distribution Offer
Winter 19 - Distribution Deal Signed
Released June 2019
I haven't taken a traditional path to getting into the TV world. I'm now at a point where im comfortable enough editing, shooting, and being in front of the camera that I want to try my hand at filming a pilot project for a potential TV show. It wouldn't be a huge budget but I don't know how to raise the capital to rent out some of the gear I need. How did you approach raising $100,000 for your film?
Script, Business Plan, and Actors - If you can't get Brad Pitt, attach somebody that people will recognize (Jim O'Heir was one of our earliest). If the script is good, you can get the actors to pick up the phone. If you have actors, then investors will be interested. If you have the business plan, they'll come on board. I'm not sure what a business plan looks like for a pilot, but it would involve research on other pilots that hit the big time.
How did you take your first steps from knowing you could make films to getting a financed project with theatrical distribution? Did you write it yourself? What was your first step in terms of securing a budget / building interest?
I submitted it to a contest put on by Robert Rodriguez and pitched it to friends to see what they thought. Both came back with positive vibes.
What are your thoughts on the popular fan theory that Coach Victor is a surviving member of The Branch Davidians under David Koresh?
I've spent hours on r/ conspiracy and never seen this one. I assume this fan theory is big on the dark web?
Hi! During any stage of production, did anything surprise you by how much it cost? Something maybe you weren’t as prepared for?
Congrats on the film!
For sure! E&O insurance is a scary one as you reach the end, and can tank a budget if you're not ready. The same goes for DCP authoring if you're in a time crunch, or a good colorist or sound designer.
If your film was so successful then why didn't you mention it's name in the title of your post?
Not to shit on your dream or anything, but considering you're still struggling to make back a measly 100k, it doesn't sound like your film has "outperformed" any films with big stars that I know of, lol
I didn't put it in the title because even with the subtlety I used, people are still referring me to r/advertising and calling this entirely a marketing scheme. So I'm glad I didn't!
The movie has to make closer to 200K to make us 100K, if that makes sense, because of all the expenses from the distributor putting it in theaters. And yes, that's true, but we're only talking first year here. We've got eternity to continue selling this film.
Big fan here! I read somewhere that you filmed everything in less than two weeks. Is that true? If so, what was the most difficult part of filming everything in such a short period of time?
Yes, we shot it all in 13 days. Because the film focuses so heavily on Brad's character, and because SAG requires an off day for every 6 work days, 13 days was much better than 15-17. There was a sweet spot at 12-13 days that saved us a huge chunk of change. 18 days would have broken the bank wide open, and we didn't really need the extra day or two with how we were working. We even gave everybody a half day on day 7.
Moreover, we shot ten hour days, rather than twelve. I didn't want the unpaid PA's to have to hang around for 14 hours every day, because they'd give up! So we were doing five hours, lunch, and five hours, usually. Sometimes we'd get out in 8. That was harder than the 13 days, truthfully, but not impossible. I get super bored on sets that go over ten hours, even as the director.
In the other post you stated how you George Lucas gave you the advice to go to Film school. What would your motivational* words be to a 25 year old (me) whose goal is to produce movies, but only takes his first steps next summer when attending a summer school program?
*In particular, I am wondering how to approach my dream since I am bit older, not US citizen and currently working part time for a bank.
A lot of people would motivate you by saying, "Just DO it -- shoot for the stars"
I think it's worth saying "Know when to DO it"
So basically, I want you to succeed when you go all-in on this communal dream of ours. So push yourself, but don't do it until you feel somewhat ready. (I'm not saying to be afraid, but I'm not saying to be totally fearless either!)
No matter what, my other advice is, enjoy the heck out of it. If all this came crashing down for me tomorrow, I would cherish these past few months for the rest of my life. Every day is a gift.
Theater was where I got my start as an artist. Even as a small time play actor, I was learning things that would help me as a filmmaker. If you're in school, sign up for theater arts.
outperformed films with big stars
What films with big stars are you referring to that yours outperformed without having yet made back your $100k budget?
Can you clarify?
How does someone sell a movie script? Do you have to go through an agent?
I'm struggling to figure that out. Yes, it's through having an agent or a manager. Beyond that, spec scripts aren't selling like they used to, and it can be very difficult, especially if you don't have something that might end up on the yearly Blacklist.
Everyone knows Les Miles wears a white hat. What is the creative reasoning to leave Les Miles hatless in the bar scene?
Les Miles the coach wears a white hat. Les Miles the actor wears a very very small, almost microscopic, white hat. We would have needed a 2500mm telephoto to have any hope of spotting it.
Girlfriend is filming a short film. She’s written it, produced it, will do the editing, and is also going to do the sound/lighting.
Once we get that all done she is asking me to help her get that movie out.
What do you suggest? I consider myself a business man but I’ve never tackled the movie/entertainment industry.
Thanks for the help!
Shorts are tough because there are so many of them now. I would advise targeting a niche audience that will enjoy the film, and then targeting them on social media, either through groups or small time ads. Either way, there's not much of a way to turn a profit, unless it goes viral and a company sponsors it.
How did you get the $100k?
Check out the discussion I have with some folks a little further back... private investors, lots of them
I have always dreamed about making a movie but havn't positioned myself around film makers or Hollywood. Do you believe it is possible for somebody to come out if the woodwork and do what you did? I'm a professional artist and have skills but have never applied them to something as daunting as a feature film. Thanks for doing this!!!
I think the answer is yes for a documentary, and no for a narrative film. While the latter can still be accomplished, movies like that are made so often that they get lost in the shuffle. You need at least five dedicated movie-experienced people to make something that can break through, if not ten or more. Animation is possible to do yourself, if you're able.
Viral, viral, viral: Many of your answers stress and emphasize "viral" and virality. You seem to care more about that, than whether your film is good?
Nah. I like both.
You start the movie off by stating “this is not based on a true story”. With that being said were any of the events in the movie loosely based on true events? I’ve always wondered if that saying before a movie started was to avoid lawsuits.
I liken it to what the Coens did at the start of Fargo. There's a lot of leeway, especially if you add in the end credits the full disclaimer.
Did you let Buddy Garrity drive his golf cart around the field?
We drove him in an air conditioned chariot.
I'm going to shoot my shot here, lol
I'm a young artist who wants to get more experience working on film sets before I apply for film school (I'm 21)
1) would you be looking for any interns anytime soon?
2) anywhere I can send what work I have to you if the answer to #1 is yes?
When you said previously that your film did solidly with critics which critics are you referring too? IMDb has you at 4.8/10 and Common Sense at 3/5
Check out my answers to a similar thread below. I was aiming for 3 out of 5. Sounds stupid, but tons of movies like this one fall to less than that. IMDb is giving us trouble right now because we're getting reviews internationally and it hasn't been released internationally yet. Rotten Tomatoes is the best so far.
Tap water or bottled? Best place you have experienced tap water?
Bottled, except in Wauwatosa, WI. They have state of the art water filtration, and the stuff tastes like magic, no filter needed.
So I saw an AMA a cooler weeks ago and the guy said film school was a joke and he didn't learn anything there. What's your take on that?
It's true if you expect the curriculum to do all the work for you. I knew I wasn't learning anything, and dug deeper. The professors were happy to oblige.
With that budget, what was the size of your pre production team, film crew, cast, and post production team? Also how many days could you shoot with a budget that size? I’m currently a double major in film/business so these are the kinda things I think about. Thanks and congrats on the project!
That film business major is a great asset, good for you.
Pre production was small and I did as much as I could by myself, but with great help from a trio of producers and other actors on the project. Also, Trello.
Shoot lasted 13 days with minimal prep, lots of real locations, no sets.
Yeah I've got a question.
How??? I don't know the first thing about how someone goes about lassoing together everything necessary to film and produce a film. You need money, you need equipment, you need a crew, you need actors, and then you (I assume) need connections in Hollywood to get anyone to want to see it. So How?
Lots of failure and lots of preparation. It's like you said, and a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Dedicated all my time to studying just exactly how, and spent the rest of the time befriending people who could capitalize.
Congratulations! You're making the rest of us 20-somethings look bad!
As a total outsider to filmmaking, I've always wondered how much stock you guys put into the critical reception of your film. From what you've said, it seems like your film has been an incredible success from a commercial standpoint. A quick Google seems to show that the film has received a fairly lukewarm critique from the "critics," but largely favorable audience reviews. As a filmmaker, what is your take on this aspect of the process? Do you agree/disagree with the critics? Should people even care what the nay-sayers think? Is there an opportunity to use the critiques constructively?
Once again, congratulations on accomplishing something so incredible, and good luck in all of your future endeavors.
I'm actually stoked with our critical reception. I knew going into this movie that we were going for commercial success and that critical success would be super hard to accomplish. I was aiming for above 50% on ratings, and I think we got it. IMDb has tanked last week thanks to some international trolls that pirated the movie, so if you'd rate us there, it would help.
Hey I've got a bunch of ideas for movies, how do I make them?
Having a full script is way better than just about anything else, and is the cheapest way to have your work evaluated and continue improving over time, especially with resources like Blacklist .com.
Do you admire people like Kevin Smith when it comes to doing Q&A's? Is that something that you would like to get into?
Of course. I always appreciate anybody who connects with the audience.
Having a publicist can be very helpful. Got one to come on for just a couple weeks through a mutual friend. Appreciate it.
Do you think it's a necessity to go to film school to become a successful filmmaker?
Nope! It just helped me with connections and allowed me to spend lots of time immersed in LA.
Congrats on your big break man! I'm writing my first feature at 31 after spending all my twenties making short films. Did you crowdfund? If so any hints? Im gonna record the table read of my first draft, mainly so I can hear back the script to figure out changes for the second draft, but also I'm planning to release the first act as an audio play as an instant gratification reward for contributing? Does that make sense? Any pointers appreciated!
That's great, good for you too. Did you learn that from Jim Cummings? He's great for that advice. Although, don't ever let your actors hear the table read, keep the lines fresh, I think. Talked about crowdfunding a little higher up.
What do you think of your IMDB rating?
It was above 6 last week and then we had eight consecutive 0 ratings from abroad. The film hasn't released abroad, so not sure what's going on.
Hi there! I’m a student currently studying Dramaturgy and am interested in general on the kinds of research you may have had to put in for the movie? What different kinds of research and how much research did you, or your team have to put in for your film? Typically Dramaturgy tends to be associated with historical research, but as I’m assuming your movie didn’t have to do too much on that end (though I don’t know, you may have had to) I’m curious what kind of research your team had to put in. As I plan to eventually make my way into work for movies, I would love to see what kind of work you ended up needing! Thanks and congrats on the film!
We started work with the American Heart Association in the scripting stage to make sure we had their disclaimer after the credits, and to make sure we got the science right. Moreover, I had the script checked over by two friends, one of whom was about to graduate med school, and the other law school.
I want to see two things. A show that depicts normal people's retellings of catastrophic events. My roommate was a manager of a hotel on Bourbon Street during Katrina and has a really cool story and I figure alot of people have similar story from different events.
A modern day Mr Rogers as a YouTube series for children. Idk why I just think it would be cool for kids to have that especially since so many kids are raised by their tablets on the YouTube kids app.
Are these good ideas?
Both good ideas!
Check out Waltzes With Bashir, very similar to your first recommendation, and one of my favorite documentaries. Incredibly jarring.
For the latter, since the Tom Hanks film is happening, I'm sure a followup isn't far. Unfortunately I don't think there can ever be another Mister rogers, so we might have to keep working with Julie's Green Room, or whatever that Netflix show was.
How was the process to find a composer? I've always wondered if it's via contacts or if there are more ways to become the composer for a film
He was a good friend. I would advise watching indie movies you like and seeing if those composers are within your budget range.
This is really inspiring to see!
As the producer, how did you go about sourcing/selecting the score/soundtrack/incidental music? What was the process?
(I'm working with another composer on some pieces "made for film" to showcase/demo what we can do, so keen to hear more about your thought processes behind your choice)
It was an intensive trial and error process with Logan, our composer. We started by looking for sound and feelings we wanted to get, and went from there to timing and editing.
(i'm a little late but i'll try anyway)
I see nothing here about 'how you raised mon$y to fund this project.'
thanks for your input...!
Investors ranged from $5K to $30K, and each came in for a slightly different reason, but all were convinced by a thorough business plan and projections.
I’m developing two films right now, one of which will be a documentary that will probably have a budget one-fourth of this one, and the other which will be another football movie (this time based on a book) and will have the financiers of that publishing effort helping me raise what will likely be about four times the budget of this one.
How did you afford basic living costs while making this, I assume this was a full time job?
Basically used a part time job and freelancing on both ends of the months when this was full time, and in part when this was part time, like for the next few weeks.
What's some piece of advice you'd give to 18 year old you?
That's a good question. Really good question. There are lots of wild goose chases that have wasted my time, so number one would be avoiding those, but I still learned something every time.
Not quite live action, but got any tips for attempting to get a budget for an animation pilot?
Beem whittling away at various aspects for a few years. Still 22 min of hand drawn/digital cel is a tall order and it seems like even the pitch will need a budget.
Before anyone says 2D puppet. I hate all the 2D puppeted work being used to save money. It looks like shit and limits the scenes.
I sadly don't know very much about animation or pilots, business-wise. If it were me, I'd get started on the best sixty seconds and see if that gets you the attention to fill out the rest.
I wish I had the talent to create with just me and some voices. (I know that's not what it is wholly, but I can't draw for crap so that's how it seems to me.)
How can someone audition for a movie??
Usually involves getting an agent or a manager who will submit you, but there are sites that let you submit sometimes without representation! Local schools with film programs are a great start.
Did you write/direct this film? Did you have any formal education/background in film before making this?
I did! Went to USC.
I'm at the script writing stage for a movie, how the hell do I start?
What do I do when I finally feel comfortable with my story and want to make it real?
Outline! The more you outline, the easier the script is. Writing books and blogs are awesome too. When you want to make it real, make sure the script is tight and start there, then maybe do a sizzle reel.
Can you tell us how much money your film made in the first month of VOD sales? And which place made the most money back - theatrical, VOD, or physical media?
And who’s your distributor? I actually released my first feature film two weeks ago too (Surviving Confession) on VOD, but looking for a physical media distributor. Any suggestions?
The first month had something around 30,000 I think, but it might be more than that. VOD is the top. Theatrical was pretty low, and physical media I'm sure will be fine, but more costly to produce.
We were distributed by Vertical Entertainment. But as far as physical media I'd check out the distributors that specialize in that.
I have no experience with movie making but I have an idea and half a script. Obviously I think it has some merit but I’m not sure how to expose the idea to the right people without giving it away? I’m trying to aim it at two actors/producers but no idea how to get it going.
Stealing scripts isn't such a danger anymore. What's the worst that can happen, they'll make it? Most scripts don't get made, so if you have someone willing to give you a read, don't be afraid of them. If you're afraid of the quality though, I think a $75 read on the Blacklist website is a great resource. I have some old professors who consult I can recommend too.
How much of the $100k have you made back so far?
After the distributor takes their cut, we're looking somewhere above half. But there are a lot of variables left that should add to that. Conservative estimate.
Each and every day is a rollercoaster between feeling like a success and feeling like a failure. Although I will say that I've never felt like I'll land in between. It'll be one or the other.
What's it called and when can we see it?
The Last Whistle, available on Amazon and DVD, and so forth. Hope you enjoy it.
I'm NOOOOT meaning to come off as rude or anything. I'm genuinely curious, and actually have a chance to ask. Why does your film have such a low rating on IMDB right now?? You have 5 actual reviews all 9 or 10/10 but only a 4.7 rating. I've seen movies with slightly more and slightly less with way higher and way lower scores.
I'm just curious as to why it's so low?
EDIT: SO I have now purchased and watched this movie. And I still have to ask why the fuck is the score so low?? That makes 0 sense to me.. THis movie is great.
Hey, really appreciate it P2000. And good on you for watching the movie before ruling one way or the other, even if you had hated it!
A lot of it has to do with marketing, I think. Maybe somebody saw a trailer and thought the movie would be a certain way and then it wasn't, or maybe they thought they were buying Friday Night Lights 2 starring Buddy Garrity. Either way, just like on Amazon, you'll see 1/5 reviews for something that deserves at least two stars, just to tank the rating.
I've only seen the trailer (can't find it on Amazon uk) and the voices seems flat.
Did you register them (or re-register) in studio by any chance?
Where are you viewing the trailer?
I’m an aspiring director and I’m wondering in your opinion what’s the best way to jump into it and is film school actually worth it or should I just try and do any job that could possibly help me get their? If there’s an opportunity to go to a big studio and get a job not as a director but just being in the business is it worth it or would you just go and try filming movies?
I think I would advise going the producing route and then hiring yourself to direct movies once you're an established producer. That can involve the studios, or agencies, etc.
Is there a piece of advice you would tell your younger self if you could? I just graduated university studying film production and trying to make a start into the industry is a tad daunting!
Also, huuuuge congrats on your film and thank you for answering Reddit’s questions!
Doing my best and sorry for the pause in replies!
I think the most important thing is to find what you're most passionate about and go for it while you don't have a family or corporate responsibilities. Don't wait for the right time to strike if you feel the iron is hot.
How did you contact and attach Jim o heir to the project?
A mutual friend got me in the door, and he really liked the script and that I had written the role for him.
Have you already got a new project laid out for yourself? What genre of film would you like to make next?
I'd like to attempt something in the half-a-million range, but there's a bunch of interesting stuff I'm trying to figure out right now. Maybe I'll go full biblical next, or another football coach...or maybe just totally thriller. We'll see.
This is so awesome! First off, congrats man. How can I watch this movie? I hope it becomes available for streaming in the future and I can rent it or something.
Second question, how did you come up with your business plan?
Thanks. It's on amazon and iTunes and DVD in Walmart. Hope you enjoy. Came up with the biz plan by taking a class at USC from a producer that does a bunch of Netflix movies now, but started where I did. He talked a lot about income, international presales, and so forth.
Hey man I am planning to be a full-time filmmaker can you please to tell me if it's necessary to go to a school for a diploma or shall I learn the best up-to-date filmmaking techs online. Also why did you went for theatrical release and not on online platforms?
There's room for both, but film school isn't a requirement unless you're starting from ground zero like I did. Definitely listen to podcasts and read reviews online. We did a day-and-date release, so that's a bit of both.
What method of distribution nets you the most amount of money? Theaters or VOD? I purchased the movie on Google Play Movies today but was curious which way would give you the most back to you personally?
Hey I really appreciate that question, super kind of you! The VOD's are best, so you've helped us the most! The only time I'd pick one over the other is when we're trying to drive algorithms and stuff, so typically you do iTunes week one and Amazon/Google in the weeks after.
Hey man! Glad to hear how well everything went for you. Regarding the private investors, were they people you and your crew already had connections with, or were you cold calling people to pitch? Additionally, how did you decide which investors you wanted to approach/work with?
Chatted this a bit further up. It varied! We ended up with many of them, some were close and some were degrees away, but all of them had a mutual connection of some kind. that's how we got in the door
Why doesn't IMDB have more info on your movie? Do they charge for doing updates?
What kind of info are you looking for? I'll see if I can have it added.
Why do you say that your movie will make its money back and then some, when the industry gross collection portal, Rentrak (or IBOE) shows it sitting at a whopping $1,849 dollars?
I assume that's our theatrical gross. Check out day-and-date release strategy and ring me if you have a followup question.
For a startup the rule of thumb is 15x, are investors expecting this type of return for your movie?
Fifteen times the investment? I see most movies do between 0.25x and 3x in this budget range, and on the bigger movies anywhere from 0.5x to 15x.
What was your writing process? Did you start with an outline, short story idea, etc? How did it evolve throughout your production process?
Yep, kicked off with the idea and let it grow from there. Characters next, and central character. What they want and who they are around. Then treatment, then maybe a longer treatment. Then outline basic scenes, then fill in the outline, then do a draft. Then edit the draft frequently.
Did you write the screenplay? If so, how did you go about that process?
Also, do you have any formal filmmaking education?
I have a minor in screenwriting from USC, but the best education I had was just reading other scripts and seeing movies, and then writing and failing over and over again until I got it right. This is another step in that direction, but not perfect!
As someone interested in post production, how would I go about searching for a career? I've mostly done freelancing work and stuff but landing a job with a film crew is something I have no clue about.
Most people in post don't end up with the crews, truthfully. Our editor worked remotely. It's all about finding an assistant job and working your way up in post.
What do you think of someone who is writing a script then plans on shopping it to Netflix? Do you think it’s hopeless or an attainable goal?
If they have a manager that suggests that, it could be worthwhile. But Netflix develops a lot of what they do internally, and won't usually buy a script unless The Rock wants to act in it. Packaging.
First of all congratulations. Second of all, can you recommend a good way to get distribution income data on test cases for our business plans? Where did you find them for yours?
Dsicussed that higher up... contacting folks directly was my best bet. Now I'm trying to read films and where they rank, getting a little better at that.
I imagine it was stressful making your debut. How did you cope with stress, knowing the importance of your performance?
I used to play football, so that desensitized me to the stress of sudden impact. -- In all seriousness, it takes a village. Having a way to shut off is super important, and having faith is good too.
At what point did you go "this is the one I'm sticking with"? As a fellow creator, it's somewhat hard to stand behind your work at times and decide which piece will be the one that defines your future.
I auditioned the idea with friends and coworkers and it had a special tipping point that they all were attracted to.
You already planning another movie?
I am. And I had a dream last night that someone had stolen the script and made it word-for-word. It was super good and I really enjoyed it before calling my lawyer.
What was the impetus for the story you wanted to tell? Did you begin by saying "Ok I want to make a movie" and then the story came after, or was it the other way around?
I submitted for the Rebel Without A Crew TV competition and got turned down, actually! A little bit of both.
Congrats man! Is it common for these endeavors to not make their money back? Kind of like an investment in your talent of some sort?
It's extremely common, especially in the past ten to five years. Lots and lots of money thrown away on old fashioned business models.
Can one of you film majors make a really good and funny baseball movie??? I mean, I cannot count how many football movies that have been made. Thanks
I'll do my best. I'll never be able to top The Rookie, and will be basing the tone of my next film off that one.
I'm mean... that's cool and all but, 4.7 on imdb? I don't believe you're out performing anything.
Rotten tomatoes is more reliable.
How do you reconcile having decent acting and cinematography and yet an irreconcilable plot?
I’ve only seen the trailer but here’s my perception. Guy basically kills a kid as a result of his own negligence and then he is redeemed through what I can only glean as a combination of going to church, drinking alcohol, and pretending that he didn’t also traumatize the other players on the team and is somehow a trusted mentor now. The trailer started off pretty good but took a nose dive part way in, like when the plot was revealed. His high school players aren’t THAT stupid, and neither are viewers according to the review consensus thus far.
I give the trailer two thumbs down. Especially if there’s a lot more to the actual plot then that.
I can reconcile it by saying that I spent 87 minutes telling my story. The trailer spent less than two. It probably makes more sense with the other 85 included.
I'm in the UK and I'd love to see this! Any chance it'll show on Netflix?
We've got lots of opportunity for it to get around, so hopefully!
Our international sales agent is hopefully getting to work on it.
Love your AMA and all the questions... I am an investor, thinking about investing in Indie movies, where do you or new filmmakers meet investors?
That's the challenge! Most of it is person to person, and online. There are some websites that are starting to get into it, like Slated (would not recommend) and WeFunder. Feel free to follow me on socials and reach out for more info than that.
Hey, I’m currently studying film and television at College, and I’m conflicted as to whether to do Uni to study film production or go straight to work. If I do Uni, I’m gonna do a gap year first. What do you think? Also I’m based in the UK, near London if that helps with your answer
I did film school because I had some serious knowledge gaps, needed connections, and didn't live in LA. Since you're already in town, it might be worth starting at the bottom and going from there. But go to Uni if you ever see yourself transitioning into another career, since film is one of the only ones where your talent can take you past not having a degree, maybe?
I've answered this a few times below. I'm saying it with medium looseness.
Follow me on Twitter or Fbook and message me when you see things gearing up for the next gig!
Can you put my music in your film?
Follow me on Twitter and message me when I'm gearing up for my next thing and we'll chat!
So I have a completed script. Now what?
Pitch it around and send to friends that might know how to give you feedback on it
If you were giving advice to someone who would want to work on making a film but doesn't know where to start, what would you say?
Probably watch movies and listen to podcasts like Indie Film Hustle
It's a position called the colorist, usually separate from anyone that films the movie. Very crucial! It's all about shooting with even lighting that they can manipulate later on.
Oh cool you’re 24 I’m so fucking impressed you must be some kind of prodigy omg!!!!!!
What’s the point of saying that unless you’re at least teenager? Seriously you’re a grown adult it’s obvious you’re fishing for some sort of compliment you don’t deserve. You ain’t that young kid
I got a lot of flack for being young. While yes, being a teenager is super impressive, being in your early 20's is tough because people think you're green. This industry is dominated by people in their early 40's.
Incidental, but very good question. And good on you for championing this cause.
First of all, I would say that trailers are just supposed to have very specific parts of the movie, and leave out a lot of the actually important parts that might feature the less WASPy actors, just by chance.
It's hard too because actors might be diverse in California or New York, but not so much if you don't shoot there. I wanted a lot of hispanic actors, actually, but there weren't any in the metroplex.
Can you tell us a bit about your socioeconomic background?
Yep. Pretty solid middle class, Southern US. Big family.
Why does the movie have a rating of 4.8/10 on Imdb?
We were at 6/10, but then there were like 10 straight zero ratings from international users last week. Considering the film isn't available internationally, I have no idea.
I myself am someone who is looking at possibly becoming a filmmaker so I wanna ask: What kept you motivated even when you had second thoughts? What kept you confident that this is what you want to do and you have the talent to accomplish this even when others ( or even yourself sometimes) doubt you? Thanks a lot!
It's something I was born with. Since before I can remember, I always had a camera in my hands, always capturing footage, always recording. It's some weird magic. If I have to be a director to continue that, I will. So the haters never got me down all that much... not any more so than the negative comments on this AMA.
Just watch the trailer on IMDB. Looks really good! (although all audio was left channel grrrr).
I once saw Kevin Smith reject a directors assertion, on Twitter, that it's impossible to make small budget films. What, if anything, did you have to do to get over that mental hump of 'this can not be done'?
I did it all for less than this plenty of times, and worked my way up to see what budget would make it look not necessarily good, but "good enough"
How would you compare making and budgeting a movie vs TV show or documentary? As well as the ways to raise money and promote interested?
Thanks for your time.
It's hard with TV, because actors get paid by the episode. So that can become expensive if you're talking about more than a pilot. A Documentary can be incredibly cheap, and manageable if you shoot it in pieces and parts and spread it out over time. Both can be fundraised in similar ways, by bringing a solid business plan to the table, but I'm not sure what that would look like by comparison.
How much of the cinematography was “yours” versus the cinematographer? How do you accurately convey what you’re looking for in the shot or overall film to a cinematographer? What happens if the two of you disagree on a shot?
Brian and I worked pretty seamlessly on this. If there's a shot type I request, I know however he shoots what I'm describing will be best. But I want him to be as much of a storyteller on this as I am. The more voices the better.
I have a couple of questions so I hope that’s ok.
What’s your next movie going to be about?
How does one get their foot in the door in the world of filmmaking? I know your movie was relatively cheap compared to a lot of movies right now, but 100,000 dollars is still a lot of money. I’m sure money is not the only obstacle, but it seems to me to be the biggest one discouraging people from producing movies. Even if you ignore the money part, creating a film just seems like a monumental task with so many things that could go wrong.
Yes, by all means:
I am a musician/music producer. I do instrumental music and would like to perhaps look for indie film developers or animators who may like to work with me. What is the best avenue to find people who may be willing to seriously see what I have to offer?
This is the one thing I don't know a ton about, but it's worth befriending lots of indie filmmakers and seeing if their shorts are good fits for your work.
Hey, congrats on making your feature film despite the ill advice you'd received from the industry, and thank you for doing this AMA! You've mentioned that you didn't shoot on a high end cam. Could you expand on the technical side of things a bit as well? How involved were you in cinematography and cam operating? Could you tell us about the crew? Thank you.
I will, but do you work with or are you associated with Brain Box camera, before I continue? Noticed your username.
Hi Mass Communication major here. Will you ever here us students out of college?
The film industry doesn't care too much about your major as long as you can deliver!
Was the money 100% your own or did you get investors?
Have a stream below about this... investors. No production companies, unfortunately.
What does being 24 have to do with it?
I'm somewhat new to AMA's, and it seemed common for people to mention their ages. It's drawn some flak, but I've seen some other folks in their early 20's and late teens appreciate that I mentioned it.
Oh boy, what a movie. Just read the synopsis and I think I'll be skipping out on it, but yeah that's certainly original!
It was never mentioned in film school, but not much was from the past ten years.
Did you enjoyed the process?
All of the parts that didn't involve explaining box office statistics to trolls on reddit
What is the lowest budget that you need for a feature film?
Trying to figure that out. Probably $20,000 if you shoot in your backyard with one actor and self-distribute. If you don't want to distribute, then $50 for pizza.
Care to share your favorite recipe?
-Costco Kirkland Scotch Whiskey with a super small ice cube
-Perch's chili concombre: one part gin, St. Germain, ice, cucumber, and jalapeño
(I'm a terrible cook. I am so sorry. )
how involved were you from start to finish? were you just responsible for the direction or for the writing and production also?
How did you even go about starting this without just assuming you'd fail and so never getting the motivation to do it?
I was born to be a filmmaker. If I'm not doing it, I'll wither away. So it was very much this or nothing for me.
The director will usually be the major driver of a first project, since you don't have tons of money to keep people onboard for months or a year. I had some great help, but definitely had a hand in everything from start to finish, including producing. I was the sole writer, but sent the script for lots and lots of notes.
The question that so many in the industry ask: what’s next?
Another feature film, whatever I can get my hands on. Looking at a Biblical drama like RISEN next, or another football coach film.
Are you looking to give someone in the same age range who recently graduated with a film and psychology degree a chance at joining your team?
Yes I am.
Having watched many documentaries on the subject, I find myself wondering how much giggity giggity goo you got out of the casting couch?
I'm happily engaged, thank you. The new generation likes to avoid that stuff.
Reading through this thread I feel really inspired! What was your path and background that led you to where you are at the moment and what would you recommend to budding filmmakers who wants to do the same.
How was the writing process like? How did you come up with the idea and when did you know it was "the one". Did you write many scripts in the past?
Also, in regards with directing, how did you find your voice and vision? Did it come through time and experience of would you say film school has really helped you.
And lastly, how do you maintain your passion for filmmaking and what drives you?
Sorry for all the questions, extremely inspired and would love to do what you're doing it a few years times. Great work! Can't wait to check out the film!
Great questions, and if I don't answer them fully here, I think I've hit them once or twice earlier if you can find them. Feel free to follow up:
Writing process can be arduous and takes time. It's a rollercoaster and I have to motivate myself to stay excited about an idea, especially over a number of months.
Film school exposed me to other directors in my same shoes, at the same time as the big players who would come in for Q&A's. That dichotomy was important to me as I learned where I wanted to fit in.
My passion for filmmaking is driven from deep inside, something very innate I guess.
Very late to the party. Just watched the trailer. I’m not sure if it’s an insult to imply this film isn’t professional but holy shit it looks professional! Ahaha never would guess indie.
Quick question: as someone who makes what has often been described as “cinematic” music (not scores, but music that would fit well as the soundtrack to a movie), how would you suggest I track down music directors for an indie film such as this? I imagine indie films need music, and I want a placement. So a potential for win win in my mind. (I have publishing for label releases but for independent release I self publish)
Follow me on socials and buzz me when the next movie comes around, if I get so lucky!
Texas connection! From the border here in Laredo. Couldn’t be more excited to see a fellow Texan living out their dream. Seeing you’ve won state championships, I could only imagine what getting to work with Les Miles was like! :)
Considering all your accolades (finalist for the Collyer Grant, finalist for BET’s Project CR8, semi-finalist for ‘Rebel Without a Crew’ and a whopping 50 projects) how do you go about raising funds for all of your endeavors? Your help and insight would be nothing short of a blessing being that I’m currently attempting to raise funds for short pictures and follow your footsteps. :)
P.S. Thank you for taking time to speak to the community at large! I believe I speak for everyone on this thread when I say your presence is greatly appreciated!
Andrew E. Belcher
This was mostly the only endeavor I fundraised for. That was kind of the key, as most people had tracked my progress and as soon as I said I was going all-in, they wanted to join the ride.
Does it involve shooting trump supporters?
That movie has currently made negative $100,000, so luckily no.
U need a babyface actor for the next one? I’m all ears (and face obviously)
Like I told the fella earlier, follow me on Twitter and message me when you can see we're auditioning for the next one. Hopefully that will be in the next decade!
Do you have any advice for anyone who is starting to get into film? Where do you start? Would you still recommend film school?
Thanks, and congratulations! That's a lot of hard work you pulled off, it's fantastic to see it paid off and that your film has been so successful!
Answered this a few times in different ways. If the replies got buried, let me know and I can reiterate.
I'm not an influencer or a movie star, how do I network so I can get a small part in movies?
It's very hard, and networking won't really get you that. Even my most networked friends aren't in their friends' movies because their friends find the best actors. Focus on your skill and craft it with the internet. Fail early and often. Then see where you can go.
What is a compelling narrative to you? How many drafts did you go through and what was the process like?
It's something that sticks with me for more than a couple days. Went through about twelve drafts, and it was arduous but worthwhile. The hardest part for me is reading the script like it's my first time, or that I'm not myself.
I start at USC for grad school in January. Need a sound designer for any projects coming up? :D I'd love to share my portfolio.
Great job by the way! I saw your picture of you at USC.
I'm a big fan of Charlie Moody, but good luck, Fight On, and if he ever goes back to New Zealand again, I'll be the first to call.
It seems Hollywood is a nepotistic affair. Are your parents part of the industry? If not, how have you overcome that obstacle?
They absolutely are not, and that's been one of the toughest hurdles for me. People with industry parents have so much access they don't even realize, and it's so numerous nowadays. Hey, they deserve it to some extent. Doesn't mean I won't run twice as fast to keep up with them.
Overcoming that obstacle is honestly kind of easy. Since they're so used to the industry, they take it for granted and get apathetic. If you care and do your best, you can keep up.
can you go into detail how exactly you spent the 100k?
Sure, I did this on a post above, but it was basically a fourth to a third actors, a fourth to a third crew and equipment, and a fourth to a third transportation and housing, with the rest for lots of little things and marketing.
I’m just starting off college and my current major is film. Any advice for an aspiring film major?
I would suggest being a great producer above all else, so that you understand the industry. Succeeding in other areas will follow.
Is there anyway you could share your budget sheet? I am curious to know how the $100,000 was spent. Thanks!
Answered this a few times in different ways. Ping me if you can't find it and I'll try to let you in on it.
I'm writing my first scripts for both a short star trek fan film and a feature film as well as a short film version of the feature film.
I'm currently getting grant money and took some classes as the northwest film institute so i got to learn how to use Arri cams. I know how to edit in Resolve, Final Cut, Premiere but i'm gonna stick with premiere i think. I also am in school form my junior year for now a film BA, Comp Sci BS, and philosophy minor
the bigger issue I have is ... How do you get people to work with you. I have been a loner most of my life and I'm social and happy go lucky around people but i'm a depressed mess normally and its really hard to organize people. Let alone find reliable people to work with. how did you do it?
other question is my star trek short film i'm just gonna film with one other friend helping as the cast is me, my partner, and a therapist and just is a total of 3 scenes really with about 40 camera shots i estimate total.
I wrote the script to remove any need for traditional special effects as well and i guess are there any suggestions on how to get funding to pay people for help with things i can't do like motion effects and graphics. I would love to have this be something that gets people talking if possible.
Well let me start by asking, if it's Star Trek themed, are you hoping that it will get people talking as a fan film? Or do you have another plan for it? I would normally tackle your other questions first, but I think this is the most prominent make-or-break aspect worth addressing.
Congratulations on your hard work and achieving your vision. My question is more about morality than money. I am assuming this is based off a true story. I have read several accounts of this happening. Just this year, a 14 year old died. My question is how can you write and produce a story of redemption when young athletes especially African Americans are continuing to be placed in harm’s way? What about the perspective of these students’ and their families’ lives? Where’s their story? How can there be redemption when this continues to happen? The coach telling the players he loves them doesn’t negate that these coaches are more concerned about their own glory and reputation. I’m incensed that someone’s bad judgement and conscious can be wiped clean conveniently with religion. Instead of going back to the field, why isn’t he starting a foundation that informs other coaches of the dangers? Testify to Congress? Start a campaign to collect money to compensate these families? I apologize if my question/comment is strong, but I almost lost my son to football with a severe concussion and neck injury.
This is a great question, and I think if you watch the full movie you'll see that we walked that tightrope a little more carefully than the trailer suggests. I'll add too that while the coach starting a foundation was a little too on-the-nose for the script, the film is working with the American Heart Association to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest. So we're trying to be on the right side of morality here.
I haven't! I bet it covers lots of my stuff here, just without the more world weary admissions.
I can't help but draw comparisons to Friday Night Lights (which also stars Brad Leland). Was this show at all an inspiration for your movie? If not, what was?
Yep. We wanted to get FNL fans and give them something a little new and different.
This is going to be somewhat off topic but I would appreciate any input. I’m a project manager in software. Not the worst thing given my personal interest in tech but not really my dream job. With that said I’ve always been interested in the film industry from a creative perspective. I’ve been an amateur photographer for years and love the visual arts. I feel like if given a serious opportunity I could prove to have good story telling and visual expression.
The big question is: where should I start? I feel like I’m too old to go back to studying and still have the time to make a meaningful career out of it. I am, however, willing to give up my comfortable life, capable of learning extremely fast (self taught in quite a few fields already), capable of demonstrating that I’m a dependable professional, and lastly more than willing to start from the bottom.
I’m incapable of telling you what the end goal is here as I would need more (any) experience in the field to decide on that. But this is a dream I would like to chase.
Thanks for any and all input!!
Of course. The first step sounds like figuring out what track you want to pursue. This doesn't have to be immediate, but for someone who seems like they want to skip the time consuming liberal arts portion of this experince, that will help there. Once you know if you want to be cinematographer, set photographer, director, etc etc, then I would suggest hitting all the podcasts that talk about that sort of thing, especially Indie Film Hustle. At the same time, create create create, and get all the amateur stuff out of your blood. Create to destroy and start over better off. Then after all that, do something of weight and see where it goes.
It's very late but, I planned on doing a documentary and had 13k shares on the link, but only $200-ish donated before the deadline. I am trying to save up my self (I budgeted total costs to $6,000) but I feel like I'll never have enough and nobody to back what people DO SEEM TO THINK is a good idea.
I wanted to pick up another camera and decent LAVs because I feel the sound will be the most important, I have an a6000 I recently purchased and some gear but I don't know how to access funding, especially enough for me to pay my rent and take a month off my job to film this. I was homeless literally living on the streets last year and this deals with homeless youth and is really important to me but it feels like being able to film it is pointless now.
How did you raise funds? How should I proceed? Is this worth following or should I focus on other ideas
Stability is going to be most important for you making a good overall film. If you can't take a month off work, can you film it over a number of weekends? Even if it takes 15 of them?
Will Les Miles draft a winning football team at the University of Kansas?
He seems to be doing great work for them so far!
How did you get funding to begin with?
Chatted about this a little further down, basically tons of private investors.
Hey. Where do i get $100,000 dollars at the age 24?
Not sure about 24, but I have some advice if you're 22 or 23.
This really has a Friday Night Lights feel and I think it came across in a great way. Were your intentions going into this film to have that FNL vibe?
As a former football player, I could relate a lot with the film. How difficult was it to stay in the middle ground and equally portray both sides of the issue without making it overly political?
The emotion Brad Leland puts into his character is stunning and powerful. Do you see yourself working with him again in the future?
With Les Miles being the head coach at Kansas now, I'm assuming all of his parts were filmed before then? Was the part written with him in mind? And, more importantly, did he ever eat grass before filming started?
Did my reply to this post? I feel like I wrote one, but don't see it here.
Hey man huge congrats on the film!
I just made a short adapted from a feature screenplay that’s been well received on the blacklist (7s). I’ve shown the short around to friends and family and it’s been well received from them.
My initial plan was to submit to festivals and network with folks at whichever ones I get accepted to, but your point about Sundance and the bigger festivals being geared more towards star power and medium level filmmakers rather than those just starting out like me really resonated with me.
Would you suggest that I still go through with this plan or go the path you did and directly target investors? And on that note how did you connect and contact these potential investors?
Glad that I might have saved you a few thousand dollars and flier miles. I met someone who was doing that once, and it hasn't been successful for them, just because festivals are usually more concerned about the big players.
I think first, I would figure out how to boost that script to get 9's on Blacklist, not because they're important, but because an actor who reads a 9 versus a 7 will take a bigger pay cut to be in the 9 versus the 7, making your job all around easier.
I started with low level production companies I had interned for. They mostly turned me down. I then went to bigger business people in my hometown who knew of me, they also turned me down, or threw me a bone. At that point, I went back to the drawing board and really juiced up my presentation. We had our first bite and I leveraged that money into the rest. First investor in is always the hardest.
Were you inspired by Robert Townsend and his movie The Hollywood Shuffle... that movie still makes me laugh til this day..?
It's a classic! I need to see it.
Would you ever give a guy a chance on your crew who graduated recently with a degree in film, done sound mixing and design for many student shorts and theater productions, and even directed a few? He is so ready to start his creative career dreams, instead, he's having to go through a job that's not worth the risk or pay? He also likes to takes shots in the dark, even if it's on a Reddit AMA. Asking for a friend of course.
Of course. Follow me on socials and reach out as I'm nearing my next project. Best of luck to your friend. The very best.
Thank you for doing this! Your advice has come at an amazing point! I feel like I have so much to ask you.
I have a script, I have a 10 minute short "tonal" film and I have some cast and crew interested in making this film.
Do you have any advice for people like me who want to get their film made?
How would I make sure I am in control of the production and the end result creatively?
Rad! Good for you. Packaging like heck.
I do have a book that might help you out a ton, with a hundred pages or so of info, but I don't mean to force it on anybody.
In this budget range, you'll have good control, but don't be afraid to let some of it go. With this film, I gave plenty of control away to actors, crew, etc. because I knew they would really care about what they now possessed, and might give it better treatment than I would, and then I would always be able to swoop in if not.
Hi I'm an electrical engineer but I've always dreamed of being a film director. I try to let go of my passion but I come up with movie ideas all the time and have nothing to do but write them down or make a book around it. I am wondering what the next step would be? I know there's obvious answers of get a degree, but I'd like to hear your take.
Writing can be a great way in. Most directors now are hyphenates. If you've got all the ideas, start working on screenwriting them. The script pages can be a ticket in where a resume or personal connections wouldn't.
Wow, this is maybe the most helpful ama for people who want to, ya know, do what you did. If you're still answering i had a couple questions that I'm struggling with: what was your process like to start this project? How did you find the time to put everything together (like, were you also working a job, too)? Thanks for this thread!
Truly glad that you said that! A bit of vitriol since I logged off earlier...
Starting the project came thanks to a contest that prompted me to write it. When I got rejected from the contest, my friend who was an aspiring producer begged me to make it happen.
I worked a job, I got engaged, it was a heckuva time for sure. But it's all about time management and keeping track of to do's.
Let me know if you've got any more questions!
Sorry if this has been answered, but there’s a lot of comments already. How exactly did you go about funding the film? I am about to start work on a short film and am a little lost when it comes to gathering financing. I can DM if that is preferred. Im not looking for anywhere near 100k, but any advice would be very helpful.
All good. It's probably answered toward the middle if you want more details. But basically, have a sound business plan. If the short isn't going to make profit, then talk about how it's a first step to reserving a place as an investor on a later project or short-inspired feature.
You TOTALLY had to move to LA for this, right? Like, I'm from Australia, and the sheer difference in access to EVERYTHING blew my mind when I did a USC summer course. Access to actors, access to investors, access to willing crew... That's all possible because of being La-based, right?
Not entirely. Lots of actors were LA, and crew and equipment, but lots of locations and more crew and actors were where we filmed. The education in LA was what made the biggest difference for me. That's a great course, what summer were you here?
On a scale of Trump to Benedict Arnold, how big of a traitor is Colin Kaepernik?
Depends who you ask.
my bigest question is how did you fund it? 100K is considered low budget, sure, but that type of money doesnt just appear out of thin air for every aspiring filmmaker. Also, How did you budget it? Do you get funding before you budget or the other way around?
Producers and I figured out a minimum budget and a comfortable budget for what we knew things cost from previous movies we had produced. You plan budget before funding.
Discussed the 100K in some other questions and also talk about it in my book if you want a whole chapter about it.
My long answer is that I have a book with my longer journey that's basically a blog in paper form, if you're interested. But my short and free answer is that if you can't find someone to work with somewhere, it'll be super hard to succeed without twice the money. Your friends will work for less for you, so make as many as you can!
What tricks do you have to get around having no money for a film? You obviously had a decent budget, but probably had to cut corners at some point
At the end of the day, it's all about character. If I had some point where I had to cut a corner, I thought about editing, and if editing wasn't going to help me, I'd just make sure whatever we were shooting had weight, so that the audience wouldn't get bored enough to look around.
Emotion. Does your film make people feel? If not, they'll move on. Same goes for a trailer.
How did you source most of your income ?
I have a short im getting off the ground and finding it hard to find enogh people..
What specifically do.you say and what's your preferred initial method of communication ?
Shorts are hard because there's not much return there. Is there local business who might pay you to heavily product place in your short?
As a techie who don't have knowledge of filmography, how do I find amazing people who understands the flimography to collaborate with for a tech show? Any tips to keep in mind while collaborating?
Make sure you've got collaborators who will be in it for the long run, and that you've got a solid idea that will make for lots of great episodes and won't run out of steam.
Is this at all loosely based off the tragic death in 2008 from Kentucky about the 15 year old who passed away during a practice ran by the coach making them do excessive sprints in the heat??
I thought that there had to be like five or ten things like that every decade, but there's actually a young athlete who collapses every three days in the US from this condition (according to one study). It's extremely prevalent and not based on a real event.
I just pulled up the trailer on YouTube and saw the purchase option, who sets the prices for that? Seems odd to have $7 rental vs $10 buy when most new releases are $6 rent and $15-20 buy.
It's a matter of our distributor and the business model that works best for them. We're a bit of a discount movie, so we were maximum $14 at some point. Just so people don't feel like they have to pay the same for us that they do for Avengers. We know we're smaller potatoes!
What is your writing process like? Do you find it easier to write it as a script out of the gate or to create a story first then change the layout to fit the filming process?
I really like outlining. Each of my scripts spend more and more time being outlined before I write them. It's definitely the direction I'm going as a writer.
What’s the best/most efficient way to go about getting funding/producing? It’s my first time making a feature length film so I’m trying to find production/distribution.
Check out what I said about crowdfunding. I think it's using any available connections to find small time investors, and having a business plan that even small time investors find solid.
Did you pay for any advertising on this post? Or bots to bring it to the front page? Just want honest answer to this feel free to DM. Good advertising strategy.
Lots of preparation and studying. No money spent.
How did you get financing? I'm a commercial producer and want to move to film and am trying to figure out how to go about getting financing for projects.
Spoke about that below, but summed up: it's all about the business plan, and you're in good shape having prior work.
What was your process for writing the script & what were the first steps for even bringing the idea together?
Where did you find your co-filmmakers?
Answered this a few other times elsewhere in case this doesn't fully answer:
Started with the idea, went to treatment, then outlined and did a zero draft. (Some call it a vomit draft.) Idea came from my past and what I knew.
Co-filmmakers I met at USC film school and from my hometown where we filmed.
What other films were made in this Ultra-Low-Budget way, similar to your own production, that turned out pretty great and that you would recommend??
Of course: Different Flowers, Facing The Giants (although that one's not recent or critically favored), When Jeff Tried to Save the World (although not sure about the financials on that one), and especially Thunder Road (but they're closer to 350,000)
Damn—86% fresh on RT! Nice work, and it sounds like a really interesting premise. Any options for watching it if it’s not in any nearby theaters?
It's on Amazon and iTunes, and Walmart DVD!
How did you get influencers for the movie? I work at a start up (30 people) and I’m thinking how we can get influencers and build awareness.
Movies have a kismet that people will take pay cuts to be a part of. Obviously no one is getting ripped off or paid with exposure, but it's not the slog that commercials can be. Are you trying to make a movie, or is this more of a startup question?
How does one go about obtaining production money? I feel hopeless when I hear that 100,000 is considered cheap for production costs.
Production was probably half to 2/3rds of that. And a lot of the expense was for stars and football scenes, so if you're doing something cheaper that helps. But again, it's all about the business plan and knowing that you're going to get some no's.
How many other films did the studio green light with this one for 100k hoping at least one pulled in something substantial?
There's not a studio involved, but the distributor works on that model.
How and where did you go to hire actors?
How did you set up their contracts? Is there an example online of them?
Who/where do you find someone to give you $100,000 for a project? How did you track down someone to even propose to?
I started with a bunch of no's, just asking people for 10-15K, and then got better until I could get yes's, and got 6 or 7 of those.
What kinds of grass did catering provide for Les each day? Did you notice any favorites? Also congrats on the film.
Hah! The guy eats very healthy though. We made sure his dietary needs were met! Appreciate it and hope you enjoy if you watch it.
Wait, just making it's money back? Is that a good hurdle? The market will earn 8% at least over time
In its first year. We have 99-odd years to exploit the rights after this.
For most indie films though, this is a good hurdle. That's how dire the industry is at this level.