Ashley: Welcome to episode #197 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and Blogger over at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today, I’m interviewing Writer/Producer, Dan Defillipo. Who recently did a remake of the Francis Ford Coppola film, “Dementia – 13.” So, we talk through the process of how he was able to get this project off the ground. So, stay tuned for that interview.
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A quick few words about what I am working this week. A quick update on “The Pinch.” The crime, action, thriller, feature film that I am finishing up. So, I am making some slow progress. Last week I got with my film editor, and we put together basically a complete version of the picture. So, I will have all of the color correction, and all the special effects shots I added to the end. So, that’s super cool, just to see the actual film just kind of what it’s actually going to look like. There was a couple of small output glitches. I’m not exactly sure why? But, when the color correction is output his version of the film. There is just a moment where it was skipping frames and stuff? So, there’s a couple of little glitches, but those are not super difficult to deal. We just have to level the output on that one, 30 second clip. And in the end, there’s a little bit of
clean-up on the closing credits, needs a little bit of clean-up. But, basically all, the special effects are all in, and basically, as I said, the color correction is all done. So, now it’s just a matter of waiting for the final sound mix, which could take another month or so. So, basically, what has to happen now, is my dialog editor, has to clean-up, or I should say, he has to finish up his part of the process. And he’s doing a lot more than just the dialog edit. He’s filling in all the empty spots. So, for instance if there’s some moments where there’s no sound at all. You have to put in what’s called, “Ring Tones.” Or on set to see how the background, like the birds tweeting, and the cars, you know, driving by. You know, just so you have some background noise at all times. You can’t have just complete silence. So, you have to fill in some of those spots.
You just have to make sure everything is covered properly. And you have to also pull out the sounds from the dialog. And that’s going to ultimately get us to an M and E Mix. Which is a
“Music and Effects Mix” Which we then use for dubbing a film. You will want all, you will want basically a track of sound which will be your score, and sound effects, but not your dialog. And that’s sort of the M and E Mix, that’s the M and E version of the film. And as I said, that will be used for the foreigns. As I said, all these things are technical. And that’s what has to happen is. The dialog editor, he’s doing a lot of that. And then once he’s done, he will pass it along to the mixer, and then, the mixer takes all of these different things, these sound elements, the score, the sound design, which is the gun shots, you know the punches, the footsteps, you know, all that sound information, dialog. And then he mixes them together. And he will also create, the 85.1 surround-sounds-stereo mix as well. I will need that for just distribution. So again, this is very, technical stuff. I know that it’s super interesting. You know, it’s one, sound is one of those things, that if it’s not good, you notice it. But, if it is, like super good, you don’t even notice it. So, sound is a real un-sung hero of films. It’s better to take your time and make sure it’s good. Because like I said, there are some rough spots people notice. It takes you out of the film while watching process. And again, it’s, no one ever thanks the sound guy. Because when the sound is perfect, nobody notices it? But, when it’s not perfect, you’re really going to destroy the process of watching it, the film. Because you just get really, really, distracted. So, I think that’s all good, good news, it’s all moving along. Let’s just see here? And then so, next week, or the next, hopefully this week, or next week, I’m going to be trying to find a trailer editor. I’m going to get a trailer cut. And then I will be able to start pushing distributors, and film festivals. Because the other thing my editor did was? I have of all these different elements: The score, the sound design, the basic dialog tracks. I have all those things, my editor has all those things. So, in the current version of film that we have produced. Again, it has the color correction special effects. We just laid in the sound design, laid in the score. Again, it’s not mixed properly so, there’s moments where the score is way, way, too loud. There’s moments where the gun shots are way too loud. So, again it has to be evened out. But, it is a pretty complete version of the film. And then, this is something that I can at least start to sending out to film festivals, submit it to distributors. Basically tell the distributors and others, there is a few glitches. There are a few things we still need to work on, as far as the sound goes. But, by and large the film is just about done is all. Hopefully I can start to enter and initiate some of those conversations, and then, is you know, that is moving along, hopefully I will have my sound team, will be putting the polishes on it, on that. And hopefully we will, and it will all come together. I think that’s going to be part of my strategy, the next few weeks, just start to actually start taking it out and showing it to and going around to some distributors. And maybe even start to enter into some film festivals as well. So, that’s exciting, that’s definitely moving forward, definitely going in the right direction. So, that’s a good feeling. I did a webinar last month, or just now, 2 months ago, called, “The Pinch” The Micro-Budget Feature Film.” Where I go into great detail, some of how I wrote, directed, and produced this film. Specifically I talk about how to write a micro-budget screenplay. I also talk about how to raise money to shoot a micro-budget screenplay. And this includes a lot of information on how to write a successful Kick-Starter Campaign. Which I did for, “The Pinch.” And then I also dig into the pre-production, production, and post-production. The webinar is over 3 hours long. So, there is a ton of hopefully really actionable information in it. I worked hard putting this webinar together. So, I am charging a small fee for you to view it. But, if you are looking to write, direct and produce a micro-budget film. I think this would really help you.
Or if you were just a ton of information, you want to learn as a screenwriter, so that you can better service this market. Because I think that this is a great market, your goal is to pursue the micro-budget film. Because there are a ton of directors and producers out there, who are looking for this type of new material. So, if you don’t even consider yourself a director, if you ever want to be in this genre as a producer. I still think understanding any, micro-budget and how it works. Understanding how to write your script, so it can be produced on a micro-budget. Could be very valuable. And again, all of it, that sort of information is in this webinar as well. You can find the webinar at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/thepinch the word, “The Pinch” is lower case and all one word. I will of course link to it in the show notes as well. So, anyway, that’s what I’m working on this week.
So, now let’s get into the main segment, Today I’m interviewing, writer/producer,
Dan DeFillipo, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Dan to, the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming on the show and talking with me today.
Dan: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Ashley: So, to start out, maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background, about yourself? Where did you grow up, and how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Dan: I grew-up in Smithtown Long Island. And you know, the industry just came knocking on my door. Just to be a journalist, out in the Hamptons, right after college. And it got really quiet over the winter. My buddy called me from college and said, let’s drive to California. So, we did. Landed in L.A. and you know, just dove right in. So, there’s the.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Let’s just talk about some of the first steps to actually turning it into a career, what did you do? Was it the typical you know, get a job and in the mail room and work your way up? Did you just start trying to make movies. What was sort of your path to actually turning it into a career?
Dan: Yeah. Actually, at when I got to California, I was still a journalist. And then I went to Europe for a while, and then came back to L.A. I noticed that all the buddies that did go to Europe for a while, were all like, nah, how they had risen above P.A. status, you know. And were coordinators, and that sort of stuff. So, I sort of jumped right in and was able to work for the producers of MGM’s Tent Pole film, “Wind Talkers.” And just by working for them, I kind of leveraged into Genesis Literary Agency. Where I assisted an agent. And from there I went to the William and Morris Agency, and you know, came up through the ranks, of William & Morris in L.A. And then transferred to William and Morris in New York. And then, about after being there for literally like, a couple of months in New York. I started my company,
“Pipeline Entertainment.” Which is a production/management firm. So, we wrapped up like writers, directors, producers. So, photographers, costume designers, you know, and everyone
in-between, you know.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect. Before we get into “Dementia 13?” I wonder if you could just tell us sort of make, what do you look for in a script? And then, if there is any quick tips you have. As a producer and manager, some quick tips. And then the other “Part B” to that question would be? You know, what’s the sort of path. How do you typically find new clients and or find them and
sign them, or find new scripts, and produce those scripts.
Dan: Um, I mean, we’re really kind of snobby over here. It’s got to be really good and kind of original, you know, and we read everything. You can imagine every scripts, I’ve read over the years, because it’s crazy. I have that tick, where I start it, I can’t do the, drop it after 10 pages thing. I Have to go to the end, you know. So, thank God I read very fast. But, we tend to really develop scripts, with our clients. So, we’re like hands on from the beginning till end. We did that with I’m just looking at the sheet here. The “Sharp wave Dark Side” movie for example, a 3-D film we did a couple of years ago. One of our clients, I have an idea. You know, that’s what, where that one started. And just the process of was dropped after “No Strap, Draft.” And then
for that particular film, you know. It was, that, we needed to go find financing now. And now we need to go shot it. I don’t know if I a going to be able to shoot it? Now I need to promote it. That was like the 7-year process to get it to, you know, distributions, crazy. Very fun.
Ashley: Yeah. So, how do you typically find new clients, as a manager? Is there referrals, or can people just submit to your company? Or leave it, if you really like something, you assign someone?
Dan: Yeah. We accept quarry’s all the time, and we’re pretty cool with that. And then, clients are primarily referred, referrals. And, every once in a while somebody will blind quarry us, the management, side will look at a resume and what they’ve been up to and stuff. See if they kind of fit into things we do, you know. And obviously meet them, make sure they are not crazy.
Ashley: So, let’s dig into, “Dementia 13” is a remake of a Francis Ford Coppola’s movie from 1963. Maybe just to start out, you can give us a quick pitch or a log-line for this film.
Dan: Oh, where do we start? I mean, it’s really about a family with a lot of secrets. And kinda dubious distinctions that the go, annually to their castle retreat in the middle of nowhere. To pay homage to the little sister and daughter obviously who died in the lake, drowned in the lake when she was 6. A you know, a night of terror ensues.
Ashley: So, how did this project come about, I’m just curious, what is the process for doing a remake like this? Was, did someone pitch it to you? How did this, kind of come up with the idea, hey, let’s do a remake for this film?
Dan: Well, it’s interesting, Justin Smith, who co-wrote the script. He is an executive over at Universal. And you know, I’ve known him since my William, Morris in New York days. And he just called us, out of the blue early January 2016, and said, have you heard of this movie? And I hadn’t. And he’s like, well, long story short, after a very long conversation. He said, if we can prove it’s in the public domain? I think I can get it financed, here you know?
Dan: So, we proved in the public domain, through Library of Congress, and such. I think within 3-days, right? Sorry, that’s my assistant talking too. And then, you know moved the contract. Justin was like, who do you want to hire to write it? And I said, “Justin, we’ve done this before, like let’s just dive in, you know? So, that’s kind of how we did that.
Ashley: Okay, so what is, does that mean? Like was the original film based on a short story was in the public domain? Or this 1963 film is out actually in the public domain?
Dan: It’s crazy, the, actual film is in the public domain. They basically changed the copywrite laws, somewhere in the ‘70’s where you have like, re-up things that were I guess, not copywritten, or something, right? It was a very strange occurrence. But, there’s like a list of 15 titles, that you know, like “Night of the Living Dead” is public domain.
Dan: Because they didn’t re-up when this law was passed.
Ashley: I see, I see.
Ashley: And maybe this is more of a question for Justin, but I’m just curious? Because, like you when this interview came may way, and I was looking at the film. I had not heard of obviously, I’ve heard of Francis Ford Coppola, but I had not heard of “Dementia 13” before this.
Ashley: And I just wanted to wonder, is there value in existing, you know, IP for something like this? That doesn’t necessarily have a wide audience already? Like what was the, like when Justin said, “I can get this thing financed.” Why were the financiers so interested in financing this? Do you have any insight into that?
Dan: Yeah, I mean, we were, you know, involved every step along the way. But, it’s really because it is an existing movie, that has kind of a cult following. And you know, the name, Coppola, doesn’t hurt. That being said, we changed up the movie a lot, you know. We paid homage to it, it’s more like a re-telling.
Ashley: Okay, so let’s dig into the actual writing a little bit here. And maybe you can sort of expand on that. How do you rate the approach of re-make? Did you guys somehow find the original screenplay and pull that into final draft and start hacking away there? Did you watch the movie, and not actually see the screenplay? Maybe just take us through the actual, like physical steps of doing the adaptation. And even what you’re talking about. How do you know what to cut away? Were there things that the original film did that you didn’t like. And you thought you could do better? Were there things that the timing, the ‘60’s, versus now-a-days.
There maybe things that are different in play. So, you had to change it. Maybe talk about that process of actually doing the actual adaptation.
Dan: Sure. Well yeah, once Justin put the title on the radar. We immediately watching it, several times, the original. You know, because you could literally watch it like on YouTube, for free, you know. While we were watching the film, to get familiar with it. We had one of our assistants, actually transcribe the film, into Final Draft, to kind of use as a road map, you know. And then, as far as process goes, you know, what they sent over. They basically, the movie is written in 8 ad-structure, instead of your typical 3. Because it’ll eventually, you know, appear on TV. So, they basically, Justin basically sent over a 3-acts of it in 8-ad structure. And he’s like, well, it’s all I got man, just go, you know. So, I took that, and just kind of riffed off of the original and preserved the parts of the original, that I think are the iconic riffs of that original. I mean, they made the movie in 6 days, for $30,000.00, you know. It’s, and I think he wrote it in 2 days. So, you know, Roger Coreman, I mean, you know how that goes?
Ashley: Yeah, yeah.
Dan: So, I took all of those elements and had conversation with Justin, and like the team here at Pipeline. Of what we wanted to preserve, and where we wanted to go with this story, and different type of ad-structure. And then just, kinda hit it. I think I delivered a draft from start to finish, in a little over 3 weeks. And then,
Ashley: Did you, do you do any actual collaboration in this same room? It sound like you’re just passing drafts of the script back and forth.
Dan: Yeah, we basically did that first draft, and then, you know, had everybody at my company read it, to give notes, as well as just them. And then, you know, I had a lot of conversations, I mean, we’ve developed stuff before, in the past. So, we have a very good kind of working relationship, when it comes to writing, really, collaborating really. But yeah, we just passed it back and forth a bunch of times. And then did a final pass in you know. Went into production really.
Ashley: Okay. Was there really a development process. I always like to ask the writers, what sort of their development process, what does that look like? Like, once you had a draft, I bet you felt confident. Did you send it to some trusted friends, trusted writers, get notes back, and then start to re-write. It sounds like things were moving quite quickly. And maybe that was a sign.
Dan: Yeah. We did that here internally. We have a lot of, we are an advertising firm as well. So, we have a lot of the assistance, read it, you know, different partners, firms, and we were moving pretty fast, clearly. But, you know, everybody, because we read so much over here. That everybody had really strong notes. Which were easy to implement in a sense. And kinda put a spin on it, you know.
Ashley: So, did everything in terms of, once you had the script done, did you, prove it was in the public domain? So, then did the financing come in. When you were writing the script, did you know 100% this was financed? Or, you wrote the script and there was still some work to be done in terms of bringing in financing.
Dan: No, I mean, we were really lucky upon signature of the overall contract, was the first payment. And then, you know, the next step was, approval of the screenplay. And I think the next was the start of pre-production, and then half-way through production, you know, that kinda set-up, yeah, which was good.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, how can people see “Dementia 13?” Do you know what the release schedule is going to be like?
Dan: Yes, it’s playing for a week, starting October 6th, in L.A. and New York, theatrically. And then October 10th, it goes to all the different like, Video ON DEMAND, iTunes, all those kinds of platforms. And eventually it’ll air, broadcast on I want to say, “The Chiller” channel, and The Sy-Fy Channel. And it’ll go international at after that.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect. And what’s the best way for people to keep up with you. After each interview I just like to ask each guest, if you’re on Twitter, webpage, website, a personal Twitter account, anything you feel comfortable sharing. Even if you’re company has one. Just so people can kind of follow along with what you’re doing, and maybe keep up with ya. Anything you’re comfortable sharing?
Dan: The company website is – www.pipeline-talent.com So, you can see it kinda like all the different productions we’ve done, and all the clients that we manage, and such. And I guess the you know, our Emails are all on that.
And then the “Dementia 13” Facebook page, be a good spot. There’s a lot of activity there. I was at usually, before we hopped on. The trailer’s up there, almost 200,000 views in 2 weeks, pretty good turn-out.
Ashley: Yeah, nice.
Dan: We released a lot of cool, like, behind the scenes stuff. And different clips of the film, and such, you know. I’d say those are the best 2 places, because you know, running a management, we’re here all the time.
Ashley: That’s true. So, gather that stuff up and put it in the show notes. So, people can click over to it. Dan thank you for coming on and talking with me today. I appreciate it, and good luck with this film.
Dan: Thanks so much, very nice to meet you over Skype.
Ashley: You too, we’ll talk to ya later.
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Just a quick shout out to screenwriter, Olivia Brooks, Scara Vonch, who used the SYS Email and Fax Blast Service, a while back. She met a producer, through the blast, and is working with him to polish her current script. And perhaps even turn it into a TV series. So, that’s fantastic, congratulations, Olivia. I added a little blurb about her option and her success, to the SYS Success page. If you want to learn a little bit more about it? Or if you just want to check it out, what some other people are say, who have tried various SYS Select Services. You can also see some of their testimony on this page as well.
Again that’s www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/success. Again, that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/success. And if you’ve had some success with some of the SYS Select Services. Please do just Email me I love hearing these stories, they are very inspirational, I love to share them with the Podcast audience, as well. I think they are inspirational too. I love just hearing about other people just having success I think this is a great way to just keep motivated and keep yourself moving forward.
On the next episode of the Podcast, I’m going to be interviewing Writer/Director and Producer Shane Abess, he recently did a sci-fi film called, “The Osyrus Child” We talk about how he was able to get that film financed and produced. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week.
To wrap things up I just want to touch on a few things from today’s episode with Dan. One thing that stuck out to me was, the fact that this whole process of Dan’s, Dan said, this whole process took like 7 years. Even low-budget films which don’t necessarily show up in thousands, of multi-plexes across the globe are still difficult and they take a ton of work. And I’m going through this experience myself with, “The Pinch” “The Pinch” as I said, is a micro-budget film, super-low-budget. Even that has taken a number of years. From the time I started re-writing the script. And assuming that I am actually, going to finish the project before the year is up. Which I think, at this point is a reasonably safe assumption. Assume a 3 year process, I think I started writing this script at the very beginning of 2015. I wrote the script in 2015. I then did my kick-starter, in early 2016, shot the film in the summer of 2016. And then I did post-production now, for well over a year. So, again, these projects just take time. It’s just all of these things is a lot pieces to while producing a film. And I think this is important to remember because often times when you’re just starting out, with this process. Even if you are in the middle of this process. It can feel like it’s never going to end. And it can be very, very, discouraging, and demoralizing. But, eventually it’s persist and eventually you will get through it. And I really think that’s really key, and I hope a lot of what I’m doing with this Podcast. Is just demystifying the process. So, when you are in the middle, of these things. And sometimes, it’s just writing the script. Sometimes you just writing the script and just getting through that process. It feels like it’s never going to end. You have these moments where you just want to just give it up. And just think it’s going to end up terrible. That’s the process. And as I said, just look at this film, “Dementia 13.” It’s a small little film. It still took Danny, Dan is an experienced producer with a lot of experience. You know, involved with a lot of very experienced film makers. It still took them 7 years, to get here, with this film, all the way through production. So again, don’t get discouraged, just keep plotting along and hopefully, eventually, you will get through it. Another thing that I thought was interesting for me, in the interview for me was? How they, the project came to Dan? It was through his co-writer, Justin Smith, whom Dan knew before this project. This is exactly why, as a writer, you need to establish a number of relationships with industry people. Justin probably, pitched this project to several different producers like Dan. But, ultimately Dan was the one who liked it, and came on-board. But, this is a real world example, of how establishing these sorts of relationships, as quickly and as soon as possible in your career really help. Then, when you have these relationships in place. And you hear about an opportunity, in this case. Justin heard of an opportunity where he thought he could get his film financed. If there was just some of the legal hurdles they can get over. He called up Dan, Dan had the ability to help get through those legal challenges. And then, boom, they were able to raise the money, write the script and produce the movie. And again, having these contacts in place is very, very, important. So, when you hear of opportunities you can start to work those opportunities. And talk to these people, and you go in already with the relationship.
If Justin did not have a relationship with Dan. And he had just pitched this project to him? Would Dan have gotten involved in it from the start? You never know? Maybe he would have liked the project, maybe it would have come across, but, probably not. You know, establishing those relationships are really getting people to read your material, even if it doesn’t necessarily result in an option or a sale. Can still start to build that relationship. You meet directors, you meet producers, they read your stuff, they like it. Maybe they can’t do anything with it, that particular project right now? But, down the line, down the road, there will be other opportunities for you to approach, or visa-versa, for them to approach you, and your project. So again, relationship building, and I think they give you, a real world example kind of thing. How ultimately those relationships, you know, come to fruition, and end up in a produced film.
Anyway, that’s the show, thank you for listening.