This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 232: Producer Rodney Johnson Talks About His New Indie Drama, Happiness Adjacent.
Ashley: Welcome to Episode #232 of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger of the www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing writer- producer Rod Johnson. He’s produced a number of low budget gay themed films over the last few years. We talk about his career. Creatively he got his start by writing a children’s book that eventually led to a writing gig for Disney and then later he started producing films. He’s now produced nearly a dozen feature films. Stay tuned for that interview. If you find this episode viable please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes or leaving me a comment on YouTube or retweeting the podcast on Twitter or liking or sharing it on Facebook. These social media shares really do help spread word about the podcast so they’re very much appreciated.
Any websites or links that I mention in the podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode incase you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast, and then just look for Episode Number #232. If you want my free guide- How to Sell a Screenplay in Five Weeks you can pick that up by going to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free, you just put in your email address and I’ll send you a new lesson once per week for five weeks along with a bunch of bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. I’ll teach you how to write a professional log line and query letter and how to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for material. Really it’s everything you need to know to sell your screenplay. Just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.
Quick few words about what I am working on. As mentioned over the last couple of weeks The Pinch, the crime- thriller feature film that I wrote, directed and produced last year is for a limited time available for sale on the website. Just go to www.selliingyouscreenply.com/thepinch. It’s all one word and all lower case. I’m gonna keep it for sale on the website for the next couple of weeks and then I will be rolling it out to iTunes and Amazon after that. Also for just an extra $5 you can bundle The Pinch with the three hour webinar I did on making the film. I go into great detail about every aspect of making this film, writing the screenplay, raising the money and producing the film. This is a great chance to see the completed film and also see the behind the scenes of how I made it. I will of course link to it in the show notes as well but again that link is www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/thepinch.
In terms of my own writing I’ve got a draft done of my super hero animated show that I’ve been writing over the last few weeks. I’m presenting it tomorrow to my writers group so I’ll get some notes on that and then begin rewriting it. The live action kid’s mystery show I wrote earlier this year for a producer…I ended writing a show bible in four episodes, they have brought on a new producer on to the project. He read the first draft of the pilot that I wrote and he has some notes so I have to go back and do some rewriting on that, which is fine. As I said I’ve talked about this project a good bit on the podcast and I’ve never really done a lot of rewriting. I’ve basically pumped out those first four episodes and so now it looks like I’m probably gonna go back and do a little polish up on at least the pilot episode.
Interestingly though when I talked to this producer last week he was actually talking about not necessarily worrying too much about the script and trying to set up some meetings where we pitch it in person. His logic, it actually seemed very sound to me is that when you’re pitching in person there’s a little bit more flexibility to it. You can adjust the pitch slightly to the specific people that you’re pitching to. You can also adjust it on the fly. As you see them being interested in certain aspects of the project, you can kind of go in that direction, whereas if you submit a pilot script it’s kind of in stone. They read that and it’s either they like it or they don’t like it, whereas sort of an in person pitch you can kind of adjust. So anyways, we’re gonna be talking about that. I have a meeting scheduled with him later today.
We’re gonna talk about all that and hopefully get that project moving forward again. Anyway, so that’s what I’m working on writing-wise. Now let’s get into the main segment. Today I am interviewing writer-producer Rod Johnson. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Rod to the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Rod: Thank you, I’m thrilled to be here. It’s such an honor to be here, thank you.
Ashley: Thank you. To start out maybe to can tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Rod: I grew up in Southern California and after spending over a decade working in insurance I thought, “I’ve got to be more creative than this.” So I went through a lot of things like photography, acting for five minutes because it is Southern California [inaudible 00:04:56] for five minutes. I decided I would try to write something and I wrote a kid’s book, a mystery book. It actually got picked up by an agent and a publisher and made into a series of kids’ books. Because of that Disney Channel hired me to become a writer for them and so it started this trajectory of me, even though I said I’d never become a screenwriter I ended up starting to get into screenplays just because I was so entrenched in like Disney Channel and that world.
Ashley: When you started to write this book did you have a long term goal of becoming a children’s book author or becoming a screenwriter or sort of the goal was just purely I just got to be more creative and this is an outlet for my creativity?
Rod: Pretty much it was that. Because I moved to California when I was five from the [inaudible 00:05:49] of South Dakota. My father was from the reservation and so I became disconnected with that part of my culture. And so when I started writing this book and the book is written in Two Feathers Mysteries and it’s pretty much a Native American girl solving mysteries. I use that to kind of talk to my dad and reconnect with that. And so my goal was to just kind of can I write something. Will it be any good and can I also understand my Native American culture while doing it. It turned out to be really good and I got a lot of attention and notice because of the Native American aspect and a lot of the real side of being Native American at the time.
Ashley: How were you able to get it published? Did you know someone in the publishing world, did you just start sending out cold submissions? How did you actually take the book and get an agent, get a publisher?
Rod: I actually did send it out and I think it landed on a lot of slash piles because it was my first time ever. I didn’t have any experience. I didn’t even know at that time like who shall you say who your audience and what the book is like. My husband’s friend’s husband started a small publishing company. They did crime fiction and so I was like well, maybe they’d be interested in it. I sent it to them and they actually picked it up and it was their only kids crime fiction series that they ever picked up and he went on to win a lot of awards and stuff for the crime fiction publishing house. It kind of was a situation where…certainly it was somebody I kind of knew, but it was also I approached them because they were starting up this boutique publishing company.
I think I talked to a lot of other novelists and writers and they found a lot of success hitting up the boutique publishers first and finding that genre. That’s how it started for me.
Ashley: Okay, and so literally you wrote this children’s book. Had you never really written anything? Obviously school and that kind of stuff. But had you done any just non-fiction or even fiction writing? Anything at all before doing this children’s book?
Rod: Nothing. Not at all. Like I said it was just me trying to explore what I’m I gonna be creative at, where are my talents lying? Going through a lot of different things I said, “Well, maybe I’ll try writing.” And you know when I was in second grade I wrote this short story for class and the teacher and the principal called my parents in to tell them for a kid that’s in second grade this is like really good and we should really nature that in him to be writer. This kid should be a writer. Then I never did anything with it because I was a kid. I just lived life for whatever. That was kind of in the back of my mind when I thought I’ll try writing because acting and photography and all that stuff didn’t work out.
Ashley: Let’s talk about the transition for just one second. You mentioned you worked in insurance for 12 years. I get a lot of emails from people, they’re in some sort of a day job, they’re looking to transition out of that day job. Maybe you can talk about how you did that. Did you save up a bunch of money so you had a runway for a couple of year, did you have some freelance work set up? How did you make that transition from your published author and making money on the Disney gig from the insurance?
Rod: While I was in insurance I wrote the first book. I actually wrote the second book, I think I was still in insurance. It’s so funny, I think we have more…if you’re working a full time day job then you know that you have to write something when you’re not working. So now that I’m not working the full time day job it’s harder for me to meet those deadlines because it’s all that I’m doing. And so that was the transition. It was just…then I finally decided, “Okay, I’ve got two books. I’m gonna quit and what can I do?” Well, because I’m an older guy, it’s when the internet exploded. It became a thing. In the early days in the internet it was the [inaudible 00:10:08] of the online world and a lot of sites were, “Oh you are a published author? We’re gonna hire you to write for our site.”
So when I quit found a lot of freelance gigs where I was writing for different websites that were launching. Back then they had so much money when they were launching websites it was obscene. They were paying writers to come in that actually had some kind of pedigree to come in and write for them so I did a lot of online writing. When the two books came out and Disney heard about them they called me in for an interview and then they ended up hiring me to come write with their website www.dineychannel.com. When they were launching it, it was becoming a bigger portal for their entertainment company. That was very lucky but it was also a really good gig to get when I was first starting.
Ashley: This is more of a general question. What do you think it is that just attracts you to the entertainment industry and just being creative versus why not just honker down and do that insurance job for 40 years?
Rod: You know, that’s a good question and why is that? Growing up in Southern California being exposed to a lot of seeing what’s happening because you’re down in the street and they’re shooting something…a TV show or something and seeing the process behind people creating something for the entertainment community and that industry, it just naturally made me more inquisitive and interested in how that works. Growing up I was different. I’m a gay man so growing back in that time it still wasn’t that accepted. We tended to be drawn towards more creative fields like theater in high school and things like that just to find the acceptance. That’s where it started planting the seed to be I can be creative because I like the people in the creative community.
There’re more people like me in the creative community than working for a big cooperation kind of thing. When I worked in the insurance for 12 years, it’s a very, very conservative industry so I even stuck out a little bit there. Sometimes that was a little difficult but I think that pushed me to even want to pursue something more creative even more as an adult.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. Let’s dig into your latest film, a film that you produced called Happiness Adjacent. Maybe to start out you can just give us a quick pitch or logline. What is that film all about?
Rod: Happiness Adjacent is about a single gay man getting over a relationship. Him and his best friend were gonna go on a cruise for him to get over this relationship and have this happy vacation time when his best friend had to cancel the cruise and he goes on it alone. He meets a straight man who’s there with his wife for their vacation. Because she ends up being sick most of the time he ends up spending a lot of time with the straight guy and they end up having a connection and kind of then it becomes a physical connection and it’s about him on this cruise with this guy falling for the wrong guy or what’s gonna happen with these two knowing that he’s having a connection with a married man on a cruise.
Ashley: Perfect, I think that’s a good summation. I just wanna stop here a minute and just talk about your relationship with the writer-director who is also your husband, correct?
Rod: That is correct, yes.
Ashley: And so maybe you can talk about that relationship a little bit. Producing a film that your significant other has written and directed, there must be some mine fields that you sometimes go through creatively or logistically or whatever. Maybe we can just talk about that for a minute, how you work with your significant other. How do you solve problems when you guys have disagreements? How do you figure out which direction to go?
Rod: Well you know, I think it’s all about growing together. We started our company 12 years ago and Rob Williams is the writer-director of all nine of our films and I produced them for him. We first started out and the first three films especially were very difficult with our relationship. I can remember the first film we did together, the creative differences we may have had. At one point it got really bad and I thought, “I don’t think our relationship is gonna survive making this movie,” because me as a producer and also a big xenophile and loving movies and him as the writer-director there were times when we both had very different ideas and it felt like we had a reason to push that idea forward with me as a producer and him as the writer-director.
And even in big Hollywood movies you read about the clashes between a producer and a director on a film set and somebody gets replaced. Usually it’s the director. Well, when it’s your husband you’re not gonna replace the director. So I think what happened was three movies in we started to become more older and matured together with what we were doing creatively and understood well, here’s why Rod is offering this suggestion and here’s why Rob is offering this suggestion. We came to understand and know how each other works especially on the film sets and we know how to read each other. It’s like, “Okay, I’m gonna back way because Rob’s having this difficulty and I’m not gonna be able to offer anything constructive enough and he needs to get through this,” Or he needs my help. I’m gonna jump in as producer and say here’s what needs to happen…crew, actors.
Until this day it’s still difficult but you know what, we’ve learnt to start listening to each other and we’ve learnt after nine films the ideas actually are good ideas and actually I do want to incorporate that idea into what’s happening here. I’ve developed his scripts when he writes. As a professional reader and developer of the scripts that I’ve done in my house I think I do offer that experience to him and he’s gotten to a point where gladly takes it to the point where even Happiness Adjacent I was adamant about the ending. He wrote a different ending in that movie, a very different ending of the movie and I thought and just said, “No, I don’t think it should end this way,” and he actually ended up changing it. And he agrees now and we both agree it’s like, “Okay, that works better.”
Ashley: Okay, perfect. So maybe take me through a typical development cycle for a project. Maybe we can use Happiness Adjacent as sort of the template. Does he typically write up like a first draft and then you give him notes? Is he writing up scenes while you’re looking at those and are there other people that are in your orbit or are there other people that get the script and give notes as well?
Rod: Yeah, there is. What Rob likes to do is he wants to give me pages and I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t read pages, I want to read more at a time when I’m writing down, so why don’t you do this, why don’t you send it to me [inaudible 00:17:47] three act structure screenplays. Send me the first act so that way I know exactly what you’re setting up to happen because pretty much we’re very formula writers when it comes to a screenplay. So he will send me the first act and I’ll say, “Okay, this is great, here’s some ideas I might have with this character. If you’re trying to get this character to be a specific way why don’t you change this scene a little bit but kind of show a little bit more of the character in it. We do that all the way to when the script is completed.
Then once the script is completed we have other friends in the industry especially the gay indie production industry. It’s kind of a pretty small community and a lot of them are in Palm Springs and LA. We might get them to read it, offer their notes and then we’ll have…being in LA we have most of our friends are professional actors. So we will have them all over, food, wine, have them read the script out loud so we can hear it, see what works, what doesn’t, structure the language and get their notes as actors on the script. And then we’ll start moving forward with the actual pre-production once we’ve [inaudible 00:19:08] that particular script. We’ve never shot a film without having a lot of people look at the script first because that’s the foundation of your movie is the script.
We tend to spend a lot of time…in our world a lot of time developing it with, once I’m done developing it then calling in actors and other producers and other directors to take a look at the script and give their thoughts.
Ashley: I’m in a writers group and no matter how many times somebody brings something in that’s our job as writers, we’re always gonna give notes. So how do you know when, you know what I’m saying? You’re always gonna get those note, you’re always gonna get suggestions. How do you know when it’s time, “Okay, we’re gonna greenlight this project and move forward?”
Rod: Well, I think for us it becomes when it’s just becoming so specific with the notes. It’s like, okay now we’re gilding the lily kind of thing, let’s shoot it. As we’re shooting it Rob can make little tricks with the character as he sees fit as he’s shooting it. It comes the point where after two or three of four reads with other people everyone says, “It’s good, I love the script blah blah blah and there’s less and less like people having problems or having notes with it and if they do it’s really, really specific. It’s like does it have to be a car, why can’t you ride a motorcycle. That kind of thing, it’s like, “Okay, I think we’re ready now to go to the next phase and see that shooting or something.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. I wanna talk briefly just about production and production value. I often get questions from screenwriters asking questions like how do I know how much something is gonna in the production. Maybe you can talk about that in sort of a general way and then specific to Happiness Adjacent maybe there’re some things that are specific to that project that project that surprised you even after nine films. Were there some things that you thought were gonna be cheaper or expensive and some things that you thought were gonna be expensive and were cheap? Maybe start in a general way. How do you know how much something costs and how can you just eye ball your script and get some idea what the budget’s gonna be?
Rod: Well, I think a lot of it for has been as a producer and working on the budget before I shoot something, it’s just become what I’ve learned over shooting films. On our first movie we actually contacted a producer that’s produced a lot of films and can eyeball something and say how much something is gonna cost. There’s the obvious things like my little indie film that has a $50,000 budget I don’t think we’re going to afford to rent out a Disney hall for this thing. That should be kind of common sense but maybe not, but it’s just for me the experience of finding out what things cost that have become like second nature and I think for me it was just doing it. It was shooting it and finding out what it cost.
Our first movie cost a lot of money to make when it could have probably been done cheaper but we just didn’t know. But I think for me it was like reaching out to experienced people to see if they want to talk with us about producing something.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. And then specific to Happiness Adjacent were there some surprises even after nine movies just budget wise, things that maybe were expensive but you didn’t think they were gonna be?
Rod: Happiness Adjacent is gonna be a little different to talk about from our other eight films because it was shot on an actual cruise ship over seven days. So it’s very contained. It was the director with his three actors and finding places to shoot the particular scene. So everything…it was above all as the production goes it’s like all the catering was there, all the crafting was there. We shot it on the iPhone 6S and because we wanted to try something different technology wise and so it was just the phone and attachments with the actors. We kind of knew this film more than any other. We kind of was down to the penny of what we knew what we were gonna spend because it’s on a cruise ship for seven day and that’s all we shot.
Previously the biggest surprises I guess I had was things like budgeting for catering and feeding people. It’s like a lot of people they start off their first film and they get their mum or their grandmother or their aunt to cook food every day for everybody. We just tried to find local restaurants and maybe do the run at our budget level. It’s like I’m finding the restaurant every day to [inaudible 00:24:31] something and pay for it or like I did with the last film Shared Rooms I found a local restaurant that we enjoyed, found out they had a catering service, found out that they actually do cater a lot of film shoots, even low budget films shoots and got pricing like, “Here’s kind of my budget, can we work within this budget?”
And it’s like, “Yes, I’ll put together a menu of what you can afford within this budget every day for 10 days.” So then it comes to like, “Oh well, shoot we have to then add a day or cancel a day and going outside of that is like that’s gonna cost a lot more because it’s not part of the contract we have with this particular vendor. And I’m always shocked at how much when we used to rent a lot of equipment, cameras and things, shocked at all the ad ons when you’re done with the movie and how much it actually cost to rent the equipment and getting it back or did something break during the shoot, heaven forbid you break a lens during a shoot because that stuff is expensive. It’s those kind of surprises that I’m seeing now.
You could budget for what the gear is gonna cost and then something’s gonna happen during the shoot. It’s like, “Oh, the HTMI we blew the light on it.” It’s like oh my God, that’s a lot of money. That kind of stuff is always shocking.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. And just to be clear with Happiness Adjacent, this was shot gorilla style which was probably part of your real reasoning for using an iPhone. You didn’t go to the captain and say, “Hey, by the way we’re shooting a feature film here, don’t mind us.”
Rod: We didn’t because after eight films especially Rob as the director and he wrote the script, wanted to push himself creatively. He was like, “Well, we’ve never done anything like gorilla… What was that that supposedly gorilla movie where they shot at in Disney World or something. That kind of thing where nobody knows. Rob goes on a lot of cruises and he tends to write on the cruises and he tends to write screenplays on the cruises so he actually wrote one about being on a cruise…this story. He kind of wrote knowing the ship and as he was writing it he actually even shot [inaudible 00:26:46] on that particular cruise because it’s gonna be the same ship that we ended up shooting the actual movie on.
The great thing about technology and everybody having a camera on their phone, everybody’s got their iPhone out and they’re shooting something on a cruise in vacation, so you just kind of blend in. The thing is what takes the hit is like sound. We don’t have a sound guy with the boom mic following around the actors. It’s Rob with a sound attachment with the mic attachment on the phone trying to not be conspicuous about it but still you’ve got something attached to your phone that looks different. So it was all about trying to blend in and then trying to not give a lot of people much shots to where that could be a problem. We ended up having to go through to get it looked at to make sure it can be cleared for all the legal purposes and insurance and all that to make sure it’s been cleared.
It’s all about…we didn’t linger on this guy in the background for 10 seconds. We can’t tell who he is but…There’re times when we had to edit around that. It’s like okay, we can see the [inaudible 00:27:53] two kids really clearly behind these guys. Let’s go to coverage real quick and get them out of the shot. So that kind of thing is going to dictate even how you edit a movie when you’re shooting out in the wild especially gorilla style.
Ashley: Yeah. So you talked about how you’ve now done eight films and this was your ninth film. Maybe you can just talk a little bit and the next question I’m gonna ask you is sort of the financing of this film. Maybe you can just talk about how over the last 12 years you’ve consistently been able to produce movies. What’s the trick there and what’s your secret.
Rod: Well, we started out probably our first three films we kind of financed them ourselves. The first film was financed because unfortunately Rob lost his dad and he got a share of the life insurance money. When he got the life insurance money he was like, “You know what, why don’t we make my script?” Because his first script was developed in a writers group [inaudible 00:28:56] they’re really good. A lot of really good writers come out of it. And he was like why don’t we just use this money and we’ll make it ourselves. We have no idea how to make a movie but we know people who do. So we did that and so that was our own money. I think the first three films kind of you make enough on the first one to where it can help finance the next one if you’re lucky.
So kind of rolled into that but well, still 50% or more of the budgeting is our own money. Our jobs were pretty good and we had savings where the typical gay couple with no kids with two really good jobs and we’d just spend it on ourselves and then we turned around it’s like let’s spend it on making movies. And so our budgets are really, really low. We don’t talk a lot about budgeting but our films are typically less than $100,000. And I told Selling Screenplays to Hollywood and I’ve had meetings with executives that we talk about my production company and what we do. When I tell them what a budget of one of our movies was they fell out of their chairs like, “How do you do that!” And it’s like, “Because we’re not Hollywood and you guys shoot two pages a day and we’re shooting 15 day. We’re moving fast. I feel like I’m rumbling. I donno what your original question was but then…
Ashley: I think before the interview you had mentioned too just being super focused on specific niche. I think that’s a valuable lesson. It’s something that you’ve mentioned before. Maybe we could dig into that a little bit. How did you ultimately dive into this niche sort of gay themed relationship dramas? How did you find that niche and how did you ultimately find the marketing for that niche?
Rod: There’re a lot of exceptional LGBT film festivals around the world and I think arguably the biggest one is Los Angeles- the Gay Film Festival here in LA. So we would go to these. At the time 12 years ago when we started this after going for three or four or five years to these films all of these films about the gay man, they were still very much a downer film. They were battling AIDS, they were getting bashed or dying at the end of the film and they were still very much downers. Rob and I were like that isn’t representative of what we know in our lives. With the gay community that we belong to today gay people at the time they’re flourishing, they’re living with AIDS and having productive lives and having happy lives.
Marriages aren’t legal yet but people are partnering up and having families together. So we wanted to make a movie that had a happy positive ending and so we knew from the beginning our audience is going to be the LGBT audience, but even more specific to that it’s going to be the gay male audience because that’s who we are and that’s what writing from our perspective that we understand and we know. We’re just writing something that happens to be very positive, uplifting even and so our first movie didn’t end with a funeral, it ended with a wedding. We wanted to recreate what the queer cinema was at the time and since then we’ve been recognized for that.
We’re in books, Rob Williams of Guest House Films has been in books and magazines and been named the man of the year for contribution for [inaudible 00:32:48] because we helped usher in in the 2000s a new millennium of the new gay queer cinema and that is…I’ve always said what Guest House Films is. We don’t make movies about people being gay, we make movies about gay people being. It’s not an issue about being gay. We know that. We’re moving on from that. But we have struggles like anybody has. Dating, relationships, finding a job, enjoying life and overcoming the obstacles from it. So our first film was a gay romantic comedy that could very easily…all you had to do was replace one of the guys with a girl and it still works as a movie. It just happens to be two guys.
That’s how we were different and we were one of the first…Rob is the writer-director and Guest House Films is the first production company, well, one of the first people that actually portray gay people in a very positive light. That got us noticed and that got us an audience because the gay man in Kansas was still seeing films about people struggling being gay and it’s like, “Well, I’ve got my partner and I want something happy for us to watch.” Guest House Films Rob Williams comes along and was trying to provide that. So we created this brand of the movie with a very hopeful happy ending about this gay experience whatever happened in the movie. It worked for us because there’s nothing tinier than a niche than the gay man.
Ashley: It’s a niche within a niche.
Rod: It’s a niche within a niche. It absolutely is. It’s just the LGBT market but they include the queer, the lesbian films, the trans films and all these things that are more issue related. Our films aren’t issue related as much, they’re just for entertainment. That’s what we’re trying to do.
Ashley: Okay, now let’s talk about the film festival route for these films. You mentioned the LA Festival and you were going for a few years. Did you go for a few years before you made some film so you started to know the program directors and get to know some of the other film makers? And then what does that look like in terms of your submission? Then did you get into festivals pretty much from the start like right out of the gate you made your first film were you able to get into a decent number of festivals.
Rod: Our first film Long Term Relationship, a romantic comedy, very funny, very baddie at times ends in the wedding. It was the first funny, happy gay relationship film that these festivals had seen in years if ever. So it got picked up everywhere. That film showed everywhere. It sold out screens everywhere and it became a big hit in the festivals circuit because it was such a different kind of film at the time. And then for our second film they found out, “Oh, that’s Rob Williams, that’s Guest House Films. We loved the first movie, what’s the second one?” That was a romantic drama and it ended a little bit more ambiguously but again it wasn’t about the struggle of being gay. These guys just happened to be gay.
Again that second year of the film festivals, maybe three years after the first film when it hit the festival circuit it was still a little bit different. And so by that time, by the third film we started getting film festivals coming to us saying, “We will program your film, what is it?” Now our ninth film there’s a lot of film festivals that we don’t have to pay the submission fee and submit the film. They know the brand and they know what we do and they contact us for the most part saying, “Do you have a new movie this year because I’m starting to program the film festival. So yes, we got to know a lot of the film festival programmers. It became because of the hard work of making now nine feature films we kind of earned these relationships with film festivals. They kind of know us.
And again we’re talking a niche. We’re talking the gay film festivals circuit, LGBT film festivals circuit. Now there’s this…we’re coming from a full circle now especially with the current administration and what that means to the LGBT audience that now a lot of issue films are starting to come out especially from filmmakers of color, lesbian filmmakers, a lot of people that hadn’t been historically recognized in the past are starting to move up and get more attention because that’s kind of the new wave of what’s happening socially with what’s happening in the LGBT community. I say we’re kind of lucky in what we get with the film festival community but I also know that we worked up to 12 years to get to the point where we’re lucky enough that they will ask us for the film.
Ashley: And so what does the distribution look like? Do you do…like with Happiness Adjacent have you done like a film festival run for six or nine months and then you put it out to the public? Maybe just talk about that a little bit because I’m curious. I have my own film which you can see the poster for behind me. I’m getting more rejections than acceptances to film festivals but I’m just curious, like what is sort of the standard procedure now? Have you done a film festival run with Happiness Adjacent and now you’re getting ready to actually put it out into the world?
Rod: Right, yeah. Our kind of business model for each film that we’ve done, we’ll make the film, we try to make it the right time of the year because the LGBT film festival circuit, it’s big in the spring and then it’s big in the fall. There’s some in the summer especially because The Parade is June and I think Outfest August in LA…I think that’s a July film festival. But so we learned that when everybody has their festivals and when it works. So we shoot the film at the right time and get it [inaudible 00:39:03] at the right time. We typically have spent probably almost a year hitting that film festival circuit through the United States and a lot of times around the world getting picked up for their film festival.
So we typically use the business model, shoot the film, get it done, get it completed. A lot of times we premier the film at a bigger gay film festival like Chicago or New York on a rough cut of the film and they’ll take the rough cut of a Rob Williams film so they can get the premier of a Rob Williams film, the Guest House Films film. And so we’ll typically spend a year doing that and then know that either…Guest House Films also became a distribution company. Mainly we did that financially because we found out that a lot of the big gay distributors took a huge cut of our film and we got the relationships with the retailers, film festivals, we could do it ourselves and cut up to minimum. We just had to create the DVDs, manufacture them ourselves and work as a distributor.
So it depends on if we license to film out to another distribution company or distribute it ourselves. If we distribute the film ourselves we can choose the dates that it will come out on DVD and streaming and all that and that’s typically a year after we’ve done festival run, just the way we get the laurels from packaging, getting different clothes from the press to put on packaging and DVD and get it known out there in the LGBT film viewing audience. With the new film we rushed. We did it really fast. We shot the film, we’ve only played a couple of film festivals. We’re premiering it on the West Coast on May 29th, the day of the DVD release here on Palm Springs Cultural Center they’re gonna do a screening.
But we didn’t play the film festivals because we didn’t shoot it at the right time to get it done in time to start the film festival run because there’s a season to cruises and you have to choose the cruise that we can shoot the film on and it wasn’t typically spring, but we might shoot the movie so we can get it ready it was later in the year. So we just did a really truncated, shorter film festival run and that was like [inaudible 00:41:40] Chicago, a couple of other cities and then we were putting it on DVD really quick on this new one.
Ashley: Perfect. And so when you say Guest House Films is set up as a distributor, are you getting inquiries from other filmmakers to distribute their stuff and that’s gonna be a part of your business model going forward too?
Rod: Yeah, and we’ve done. In the past several years we have distributed other people’s films. We did a great documentary out of Australia- The Doctor’s Wife. That was a really good film and we did…for a while none of the retailers were picking up short films from the festivals so Rob and I went to other festivals, found short films and we started doing collections of short films for the gay audience. We did I think four of those- The Bricks series. We did Black [inaudible 00:42:30] which is a bit darker…horror kind of dark films. We did Blue Grapes and that was the romantic short films. And so we did the series of Bricks and then you can put a guy in [inaudible 00:42:45] on the cover and sell a lot just from the cover. That’s our audience.
So we do also distribute. And we have to go up against the big guys, the big gay distributors. For a while they were offering a lot of money upfront that we couldn’t offer. So, “We’ll give you a $30,000 minimum guarantee.” It’s like we can’t do that, but you know what, they’re taking 70% of your movie. We’ll give you 60%, we’ll only take 40 but we’re not gonna give you that kind of money upfront. And so you get a lot of the first time filmmakers say, “Oh no I want the $30,000 upfront, “ and I’m like, “Okay, that’s great just [inaudible 00:43:23] another dime because distributors they’re hard to [crosstalk]
Ashley: That’s not a gay themed issue, that’s across the board with all distributors. So what does that mean though in terms of you guys are set up as a distributor? Do you have relationships with buyers, do you get a booth at AFM? What does that actually look like?
Rod: We’ve never gotten a booth at AFM. We’ve gotten such a…there’re like three major distributors of LGBT titles out there and we know them. If they’ve not carried our films they know who we are…and I said those are retailers. When we decided to not go with the distributor because frankly it’s just they made all the money and we didn’t, we knew we could go to TLA who distributes, [inaudible 00:44:17] who distributes, Breaking Glass who distributes. Not distribute but retails these videos. They’re the biggest retailers out there. We went directly to them. It’s like, “We’re distributing now.” It’s like, “Great, we’ll do business with you.” So we were able to just put them in places…and Amazon. At the time Netflix was picking up.
[inaudible 00:44:41] Films stopped doing that so it’s really been a blow to the LGBT indie film making community that Netflix isn’t picking up these titles anymore unless you have Jennifer Garner as the mom. Those bigger Hollywood gay themed movies don’t pick up, but for us little guys we don’t have Jennifer Garner in our movie. So we have these relationships with the retailers that we were able to use. That’s how we became a distributor for other films and our own.
Ashley: Perfect. So what is next for you guys, is there a 10th film in the pipeline?
Rod: There is. Right now as I’m talking to you we’re waiting for UPS to drop off a thousand DVDs of the new movie because we’re distributing ourselves. We’re working on up until May 29th trying to get a lot of marketing of the new film. The 10th film, I’m really pushing to kind of create a little shingle beneath Guest House Films to do a horror movie because a horror movie isn’t typically the Guest House Films brand because it’s not a happy, uplifting movie but if we did like Guest House Films after dark or something and created a different shingle. I really wanna do a really low budget horror movie because then it kind of breaks out the LGBT market.
Horror fans will watch pretty much any kind of horror and if you just happen to have…the lead happens to be a gay guy but it’s not overtly in your face I’m struggling with being gay but here’s the scary things that’s happening to me because I happen to be gay. It’s kind of a bigger market for us. We would like to do that. I’m a huge horror fan so I would love to make a horror movie and so we’re trying to develop something that we could shoot here in Palm Springs. It’s a horror movie.
Ashley: Yeah, perfect. And I had and I can’t remember the name of the film title but it was a director and a producer and they were with Breaking Glass and it was a gay themed thriller. Again it was sort of a niche within a niche and I’m curious is that sort of the direction you’re going with your horror? It would be sort of a gay themed horror script so you would try and be…I guess that would even be a niche within a niche within a niche.
Rod: Yeah. You know because we still want to produce something with our backgrounds in mind being gay men, yes it would. Me as a writer even stuff that I try to sell to Hollywood I’ll sneak in a really fun gay character in there. There’re a lot of big Hollywood movies have some gay best friend or somebody that’s funny and gay or whatever. But yeah, I think even with my horror film, actually what I’m writing now that I wanna try, it’s kind of a one location scary, if you’ve seen the horror movie Hush with the death girl in the house. It’s that kind of thing. Her best friend is a gay guy and has a relationship but she’s not.
So it can still work with what Guest House Films does, it’s just not…in my particular horror movie the main character is not gay but there’s still a big gay presence with the best friend has to do in the movie. So working that way I think. But yes, a friend of mine wrote like the first gay sci-fi movie. That’s what Wikipedia is calling it. It’s called The Socket. Somebody did the first gay slasher movie and I’m trying to remember the name of that. It came out about seven years ago and it’s a place in West Hollywood. The gay thriller, I’m trying to remember what that one that you were talking about, which one that was. We’re trying to hit all the genres. Like putting gay in front of the genre and that’s happening a lot. I don’t think that any genre’s left that we haven’t put the gay in front of.
Ashley: Sure. So how can people see Happiness Adjacent, do you know what the release schedule is gonna be like, iTunes, Amazon, whatever?
Rod: Yes, May 29th is pretty much day and date kind of thing. It will be available on DVD and on Amazon. There’s www.guesthousefilms.com is our website that people can go on and find out. Guest House Films on Facebook/guesthousefilms, that’s about it. I think we pretty much worked it to where May 29th DVD is shipping out available and we’re hitting…I’m trying to think of a streaming site. It’s hard to find a lot of streaming sites but we’re getting on Vimeo. We’re hitting Vimeo. It may try out everything. It’s on all the typical places. It’s up Netflix.
Ashley: I will get your website, I will put that in the show notes, the Guest House Films and I’m sure you have a Twitter account and that kind of stuff. I’ll round this stuff up. Do you have anything personally that you use, Twitter, Facebook that you’re comfortable sharing. I always just like to round up the interview by asking you how people can keep up with what you’re doing. I’m sure there’ll be some people interested in just following along with your journey.
Rod: Yeah, there’s Guest House Films on Instagram. That’s easy to find. Search for Guest House Films. And then pretty much we use Instagram a lot and Facebook a lot. Rob’s got his personal Twitter- Rob Williams. I think it’s called The Real Rob Williams on Twitter because people tend to think he’s Robbie Williams the musician from England to the point that they will call him, “Is this Robbie Williams?” No. Facebook is pretty much the best place that you’ll find us and [inaudible 00:50:37].
Ashley: Perfect. So I’ll round all that up and put that in the show notes. I really appreciate you coming and talking with me. God luck with this film and all your future films.
Rod: Thank you so much, I really appreciate it. Have a blast.
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On the next episode of the podcast I’m gonna be interviewing writer, director Asaph Akbar. He wrote and directed and produced as well a cool sci-fi thriller film called Astro. We talk through his career and how he has managed to get to the point where he’s writing and directing feature films. We really dig into this current film but also some of his past films and he’s very open about how all of this came together. Keep an eye out for that episode next week. To wrap things up I just wanna touch on something from today’s interview with Rod. A lot of great information in the interview but I wanna touch on one thing that he’s doing which I think is super smart but not altogether intuitive. The way he has niched down to not only gay themed films but a niche within that niche is great way to build an audience
When people are starting out there’s this tendency to try and write something that will appeal to almost everyone. And this seems logical, right? I mean, the more potential people who are in your audience the more chance you have of finding that audience. Sounds reasonable, but that’s actually not right. First when you’re trying to appeal to everyone there’s a good chance you won’t end up appealing to anyone. It’s just sort of the Jack of all trades master of none. Secondly, when you’re going for these four quadrant films and basically that’s meaning if you don’t understand the term “four quadrants”, it basically means going for everyone. You’re talking about young males, young females, older males, older females, so basically the four quadrants which encompasses everybody on the planet.
When you’re going for those types of films you’re competing directly with the studios. The studios are making these $100 million, $200 million films and those by nature, they have to be four quadrant films because they’re spending so much money on them. They have to appeal to virtually everyone to stand any chance of recouping the money. But that’s big problem if you are an independent producer or an independent screenwriter writing scripts for this market because you don’t have the resources that they have unless you have $100 million to produce and market your film you’re never gonna be able to compete with the studios. Even if you did have that money, and this is really an important thing to consider. Even if you had the money to spend $100 million or $200 million it would still be an incredibly different thing to do.
When I say to do, compete directly with the studios because these studios have years and years of experience doing this. They have a whole apparatus that is geared towards producing these films and ultimately selling them. They have the manpower in place to produce this type of very expensive high end content and they have the relationships in place to sell this type of content. So it’s gonna be a toll order to produce a successful independent film at the studio level. Of course it has been done. There are some shining examples where people have been able to do this but it’s a very, very difficult, risky proposition. Those are the disadvantages for low budget films trying to go into too wide an audience.
What are some of the advantages? First, and these are sort of the really the key important points. It’s easier to find your audience when you niche way down. If you have a film for a very specific audience there will be specific podcasts, specific blogs that are on that topic and those outlets are usually pretty open to showcasing films like that. So if you are the producer or the writer of those films it will be easier to find that audience. It’s gonna be a smaller audience but those people hopefully will have come together in some way. Again, whether it be a blog, a podcast, maybe some sort of Facebook page, there’ll be something where those people congregate and it will be fairly easy to get to those people and tell them about your film.
Secondly, and this is the most important part of all of this. As a writer who is on the rise, as a filmmaker who’s on the rise, as a producer who’s on the rise, it’s much better to have a thousand true fans who absolutely love your work than 100,000 lukewarm fans who think your work is pretty good. Because those true fans will support you and buy your content and there’s a much higher chance that they will tell their friends about your content. The lukewarm fans probably not. They’re probably not gonna buy a ton of your stuff, they’re probably also not going to tell their friends about it. It’s much easier to gain these true fans by giving them something that the studios, the bigger companies simply aren’t giving them.
Also, and this is important to keep in mind. A lot of people when they niche down, they think that their pigeonholing themselves or it’s too niche, it’s too small an audience, but that’s usually not the case. It’s easy to branch out as you build an audience but it’s virtually impossible to niche down once you’ve sort of started a project. And the key no matter what is to gain those passionate fans, so really think about what I’m saying here. If you’re a screenwriter but not a producer, if you’re a screenwriter you’re trying to gain those passionate fans are gonna come in the form of producer’s that are passionate for your work, willing to read your stuff, willing to help you develop your stuff or willing to take your stuff to their context and potentially sell it.
If you’re a producer obviously you’re trying to find people to actually buy the content. Again it just makes it super difficult if your audience is too broad. It just becomes very difficult to figure out who that audience is and it becomes difficult to actually reach that audience. Let’s talk about a couple of very specific examples. Take this podcast for instance. Screenwriting is a niche but it’s a pretty broad niche. It’s probably half the people of a quarter of the people on this planet, 10% of the people, huge, huge volume of people wanna be screenwriters or think they could write a good script. So it’s a huge, huge audience just screenwriting. It’s a niche but it’s a pretty big niche. When I was starting out I felt like there was a million when I was starting out with this podcast. I felt like there was a million and one blogs, podcasts, books, videos, et cetera on the craft of screenwriting.
I wanted to go on a different direction. I’ve sold a bunch of scripts all without an agent so I feel like I’m in a pretty good position to talk about selling your screenplay. I felt like this was a niche that was not being covered enough. I always felt like there was too much of general advice out there that basically boiled down to “just write a great script and the rest will take care of itself”. I always felt like that advice was just really lacking something, so I felt like there was a potential need…as a screenwriter I always felt that that was lacking, so I felt like there was a need for this niche within a niche. That’s kind of how I decided on www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. I think it separated myself out. I went a niche within a niche and I think it has borne fruit.
I mean, most of the people who bump into my podcast who contact me, they’re not the complete novices on the beginning of the journey just trying to figure out how do I write a script. There’s someone that’s at the very least come up with an idea, maybe written a treatment, maybe written a paragraph, but most of the people who listen to this are people that have actually written scripts. That’s because of the niche that I have chosen. Now, as the podcast has evolved I feel like it’s become more filmmaker centric. I’ve gotten more into producing than when I was five years ago when I started the podcast. Producing The Pinch has been a big part of the podcast and a big part of my own life. I think I’ll do more of that. I enjoyed the process and I do. I wanna get more into that.
So I’ve been thinking about maybe trying to create or turn the podcast, make it more filmmaker centric and broadening my niche a little bit and maybe start a new podcast geared more towards filmmaking in general. And here’s the thing, if I were to do that, a good percentage of my audience would follow me to that new podcast, but most of the people who listen to this podcast, they probably would never have actually started out by listening to just a sort of generic filmmaking podcast because those people are screenwriters. So if I do decide to do this and go and create a new podcast, a second podcast, a filmmaking centric podcast, I already have at least some audience ready to go and then I’ll hopefully also expand my audience as I pick up directors and producers and perhaps actors who might never have listened to a screenwriting podcast.
Again, it’s a sort of game of interest and I think if I were to launch this filmmaker podcast I would already have a leg up over maybe someone who’s just starting out because I’ve got some at least a small audience from Selling Your Screenplay and at least some of those people would follow me over to this new podcast. So again I’m just trying to illustrate how you can broaden your niche and expand. Even though I niched way down I can slowly start to build from. I was able to do something and build an audience because I don’t think there was a ton of competition out there. There’s not a ton of resources out there specifically geared towards how to sell your screenplay. There’s a lot of stuff about writing but not so much selling, so I was able to build a small audience and now with that audience maybe I can take it somewhere else.
And again just relating to your own screenwriting endeavors I think that’s an important thing. If you can write something that’s very focused, very niche and you gain the attention of a couple of producers, then when you go and write your script that’s maybe a little bit different from that original one, if they like that original one they will probably go with you for the ride. They will probably read some of your other material that’s not necessarily in that super niche down genre. Let’s talk about The Pinch for a second because I think The Pinch really illustrates what I’m talking about. So who’s my audience for The Pinch? It’s a sort of crime-thriller like Reservoir Dogs or Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. I could say that’s my audience. The people that like those movies, that’s my audience. So how do I connect with those type of people?
Honestly I’m not sure, but even if I could figure something out it’s probably not gonna be that easy. Perhaps there’s a few blogs out there dedicated specifically to Reservoir Dogs but my guess is those blogs are more like fan blogs for Quentin Tarantino fan sites for him. The audience loves Quentin Tarantino. That audience may or may not be looking to buy knock offs of Reservoir Dogs. Again I’m not quite sure how I could connect with that same audience. There is an audience there but I don’t necessarily know how to connect to it. These movies were successful, Reservoir Dogs, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, they were successful movies. We know the audience is there, but how do you connect with those people? I honestly don’t know and that’s a problem I would say that I’m facing with The Pinch.
I’m not sure. Bottom line is I think I have created a film with too broad an audience. So what I’m doing is making it about the writing and producing of the film. That’s why I did that three hour webinar where I break down the entire process of making The Pinch. And then as a marketing plan I’m gonna go out and hit up all the other filmmaking podcasts and try and promote it to their audience as a sort of case study. Running my own podcast I’ve gotten to know some of the other filmmaking podcasters, so I have a relationship with some of them. Not all of them but some of them will probably be willing to have me on, and that’s gonna be kind of the start of my marketing plan. This is a niche that I was interested in pursuing because of my own audience, my own sort of base.
So really keep that in mind. Of course the real hope is that the people listening to this filmmaking podcast, most filmmakers…I want to go a step back. Most filmmakers, they love Quentin Tarantino, myself included. And so I think that’s one potential way of finding that audience. And then added to…those people, the filmmakers that are fans of Quentin Tarantino which is a lot of the filmmakers out there, they might be interested in seeing a micro-budget knock off version of Reservoir Dogs just for their own curiosity because they probably have their own version of that film. They might be interested in seeing what I was able to do on a micro-budget and they might be able to use that information. Same thing with my making of the webinar, they might be very interested in that.
The other thing about the making of the webinar, it took me a while to prepare it but let’s say maybe I spent 10 or 20 hours like outlining it and then I spent the three hours actually producing it…maybe a little more than that because the webinar is three hours, so maybe there was an hour of production. It’s pretty easy to produce webinars but let’s say well less than 40 hours I was able to produce a piece of content to sell along with my film. Again, that’s all in just your ecommerce 101 is getting your shopping cart up a little bit. I’ve got sort of a value add. I feel, like it’s a very valuable webinar. I feel like the people I’m pitching the film to, you who’s listening to this podcast now might be interested in that.
And same thing when I go on these other filmmaking podcast, not only do I have the film to sell but I also have this webinar to go along with the film. So it’s just kind of again, just a little bit of an up seller add on to the shopping cart which will hopefully increase the dollars that come through. So that’s my strategy and then again, ultimately what you’re hopping for is that this will be enough to get the wheels turning and hopefully they will tell some of their friends and then hopefully it will spill over and appeal to more than just the filmmaker crowd. But if it doesn’t that’s fine too and hopefully I can come close to recouping my money with just that crowd. I do think I made a mistake with The Pinch. I do think that I should have thought maybe a little bit more about how I was gonna market the film.
Again let me take a step back. I guess really in the back of my mind I always kind of knew that I would be able to do it as kind of a case study to filmmakers because I knew that I was kind of piped in to this filmmaking world. So maybe I kind of didn’t know that pretty earlier on in the process but I think I could have probably spent a little more time thinking that through and coming up with something that just maybe had a little more oomph as opposed to just being to filmmakers. Okay, so let’s take a step back. Most who people listen to this podcast, they’re screenwriters, not producers. So how does this affect all of us? I think I’ve touched on that a little bit but let’s just wrap it up here. When you’re going through those four quadrant big expensive [inaudible 00:07:35] films, there’s a million people writing those films.
You’re competing at the highest level with the best writers, the most experienced writers in the world, so it’s gonna be very difficult to get some traction and to stand out in that kind of a world. It’s fairly easy to branch out with your writing once you’ve started to meet producers who like your work just as I mentioned. If you can somehow figure out how to niche down a little bit and then find the producers who may be in that niche, it’s a great way to build some relationships. A producer who in some very specific niche, it might be unrelated to filmmaking. You might send a cold creative letter to a producer and pitching just with your log line and that producer might be interested in the subject that your very, very niche story is about and that might be enough for him to request the script.
You’re trying to get your hooks in. If you’re just pitching another very generic action film, a generic comedy, broad comedy, it’s gonna be tough to make that script stand out. Maybe your pitch is excellent, maybe the producer will take it and read it but there’s nothing super intrinsically interesting about that story to this producer. If you niche way down on your story, come up with something very, very specific, maybe that producer will have a connection with that specific thing. I remember when I first got to Hollywood, I’d just started…typical story, I rolled into Hollywood, didn’t know anybody and I just started back then in the mid to late ‘90s. It was really before email was ubiquitous. You would just send out faxes.
You would find a one ad maybe in the Hollywood report or something and that would be like, “Fax your resume to this thing,” and I would fax in my resume. It was a numbers game, faxing and faxing in. Sometimes you’d get called in for interviews, most of the time you would never hear anything back. One of the times I actually got a job and I asked, “How did you pick me?” In that particular instance it was just purely random. They just literally got like a…it was a low level PA job. It paid $50 a day. Back then I don’t even think it was minimum wage even back then in the late ‘90s. In the late ‘90s I don’t think it was minimum wage. So it wasn’t even a minimum wage job. It was literally 120 resumes and mine was just the one they pulled off the stack.
Now there was another one that I applied for. It was the same sort of job, PA at a production company and there the guy had gone, or his brother or something had gone to the same college I’d went to. My college, it was a college called Gilford College in Central-North Carolina. Very small, liberal art college but his brother or sister or something, there was some relation to that and he just saw it only my resume and said, “You know I’ve heard of this college, it’s a kind of a cool place, I’ll bring this guy in.” Having those sort of personalized hooks are what’s gonna give your story some intrinsic value. If your script is a story about something very, very specific that that producer is also interested in, they’re gonna take a chance and they’re gonna read that script.
Hopefully it’s well written and good, but it’s gonna stand out above the just mountains of other similar stories that we’ve all heard a million times. And so let’s just go one step further. There’s a million ways to do this. Obviously if you’re not gay then gay themed films probably are not gonna work for you and that’s not in any way the implication that it has to be along those same lines. There’s a million ways you could do this yourself and one clear example is hobbies. People are passionate about their hobbies. So if you could write a story that revolves around some very niche hobby that you also are involved in so you’re sort of on the inside of this world, those people that are in that hobby, they would probably be pretty excited about a film about their particular hobby. Just as a screenwriter this can work as well because the producer might also be in a hobby.
You may not be able to figure out who the producers are that are interested in that hobby but if you start sending out a lot of cold query letters, if you start networking you might be able to find that hit. You might be able to find that one producer who’s also interested in the same thing. Let’s use a specific example. If you race motorcycles on the weekend, maybe you could write a script about that particular niche. Some sort of intimate story about people who race motorcycles on the weekend. There’s probably a whole sub-culture about this. Often times I will see people on the weekends, they’ll have their pick-up trucks with the trailer, they’ll have their own racing motorcycles on there. I see these people, I know nothing about it. I know nothing about the sport or the hobby or anything, but I see it a lot.
I see it a lot on Sunday, Saturdays. I see people going out into the desert. Maybe it’s an LA thing, I don’t know. Maybe where you live in the country you don’t see this much but I often see it and I wonder what that’s all about. I’m sure there’s a whole sub-culture to it, there’s probably a whole language, there’s probably just a whole interesting world there that could be explored and if you’re in that world and you already know about that stuff, you write a story that’s about that, number one if you are a producer you can probably go to those people and maybe do a Kickstarter campaign, maybe get them…You can find the people who are sort of the leaders in that niche and network with them probably fairly easy, get them to promote the film, get them to promote your Kickstarter campaign, those types of things.
On the flip side of that if you’re just a screenwriter maybe when you’re sending out cold query letters, maybe if you win a contest that producer will be reading the log lines for the winning contest and he will see that it’s about motor cross and then he will be like, “Oh, I’m into that,” or, “My brother was into that, it so interesting. I remember as a teenager I was into it,” or something. There’ll just be that little hook that you can get. That’s sort of the power of the niching down. It seems counterintuitive at times because there’s a smaller audience for your material but the audience you find will be more passionate for your material. Anyway, that’s enough of me rambling. That is the show, thank you for listening.