This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 407 – From Rapper To Filmmaker
Ashley Myers: Welcome to Episode 407 of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Myers, screenwriter and blogger with sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing writer director Ryan Silva. He just completed his first feature film, let me be frank, he’s very candid tells us exactly how he put this film together. And he did it all without very little in terms of resources and money. Just a lot of hustle, it’s a really great template for getting a feature film done. So, I hope it inspires a lot of people to go out there and make their movie. So, stay tuned for that interview. If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes or leave 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 mentioned in the podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also, publish a transcript with every episode in case you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.sellingyour screenplay.com/podcast and then just look for episode number 407. If you want my free guide How to Sell a Screenplay in Five Weeks, you can pick that up by going to sellingyour screenplay.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. Tips the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. I’ll teach you how to write a professional logline inquiry letter and how to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for material, really is everything you need to know to sell your screenplay, just go to sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.
So, quick few words about what I’ve been working on. The big thing is I’ve just been finishing up with the SYS six figure screenplay contest. We did our big announcement a couple of weeks ago, where we announced the winners and the runners up in both of our feature and our shorts categories. A lot of interesting scripts this year, their mentors really did cover a wide array of different types of stories drama, comedy animation, thriller, one big lesson from last year, which I think also holds true this year. Again, there’s a lot of producers looking for low budget horror and thrillers and action, especially action, I have a number of industry judges that only want to read a low budget action script. And I never actually had any of the action scripts that entered never actually got through my first-round readers and got high enough scores to even get out to the industry judges. So, if you have a low budget action movie, there’s definitely people looking for this sort of stuff, obviously, the script has to be of a certain level. And as I said, the action scripts that came through this year, unfortunately, my first-round readers they just didn’t resonate with them enough to get high enough scores to then go to the industry judges. So again, there’s definitely people looking for these scripts, if you have an idea that’s low budget, and in these genres, I would highly recommend that you write it up the scripts, you know that seemed to float to the top and this again was last year too is it always, leans a little more towards the drama category. There’s more dramas kind of rising up through these, these rankings as opposed to the genre fair. And I just don’t have a lot of industry judges looking for straight up dramas, there’s some and I definitely got some exposure on the dramas that came through. But it’s definitely a little bit of mismatch, you know there’s more producers looking for one thing, and there’s more writers writing one thing, I do believe that passion is a big part of the writing process, especially when it’s an unpaid spec script as the scripts are.
So, I’m not in any way suggesting that you go write something that you’re not passionate about, just because you think you can sell it or just because some guy on a podcast thinks you can sell it. But hopefully, as a writer, you have lots of ideas that you’re passionate about. And perhaps you can look through those ideas and choose one that maybe is in genre or where there’s a larger market than the market for dramas. Again, just a suggestion. There’s definitely an imbalance though, I would say that I’m seeing in terms of what writers are writing and what people want to watch. And producers want scripts that have an audience. So, now my job is to promote these top scripts. And really, that’s all the quarter-final, semi-final scripts up, I’ll be sending them out. I’ll be highlighting them in my budget list at the end of the year, and really trying to get these scripts out to not just the industry pros, but really all my contacts in the industry. I’ll be sending these out and just hoping we can get some industry. So, hopefully we’ll get some options and potentially some sales here over the next year.
So, stay tuned for that. Definitely check out the website. If you want to learn more about the winning and runner up scripts, I have a short bio of each of the writers along with their log lines and you can kind of just get a feel for what those scripts are all about if you just check out our website. Anyways, that’s the main thing I’ve been working on over the last week. So, now let’s get into the main segment. Today I am interviewing writer director Ryan Silva. Here is the Interview.
Ashley Myers: Welcome Ryan to the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Ryan Silva: Thanks for having me. Absolutely been a longtime listener.
Ashley Myers: Well, perfect. Thank you. So, to start off, maybe you tell us a little bit about your background. Where’d you grew up? And how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Ryan Silva: Yeah, so I’m from a relatively small town in Texas, West Texas called Abilene. No filmmaking industry, no industry of any kind, really mostly military town. And so, about two and a half hours away from any city, but I got into music and watching films kind of my high school year, and I moved out to Austin. There I discovered you know, Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, some of their city’s kind of film exports. And, you know I still never thought I’d make anything but I was definitely learning more about the indie film world. And then I came out to Los Angeles to pursue music, actually and the building I moved into, and my neighbors everyone I met seemed to be an actor or be involved in the film industry somehow. And I thought, you know if I’m ever going to make a, write a screenplay, this would be the place to do it. And maybe, you know I get it made here. So, that’s when it kind of became a reality.
Ashley Myers: Yeah, perfect. So, let’s talk about that in Texas. So, you get out of high school, you go to Austin, how did you find the film industry there? Or the music industry, were you able to get some roles as an actor, and what was sort of your goal? Was it just purely music at this point, but what were some of those steps that you took once you got to Austin?
Ryan Silva: Yeah, so it was completely music. And I had a little luck, music wise. And one of the reasons I moved out to LA as I was getting some they call, blog placements and a little bit of attention from like, local Austin media, whether it was radios and then also getting some nationally as well, and Complex magazine was one. And I thought, Oh, if I moved to LA, rather than emailing with these, you know, LA industry people, I can just say hey, let’s grab lunch. And I was very wrong about that. Turns out they’re still busy when you know, right down the street. But music was the main goal. My girlfriend actually, who acts in this movie, let me be frank, she was acting in Austin. And she, you know was in Sin City Two, she was one of the I want to say old town girls, but I don’t know if that’s right. But she was just kind of an extra, featured extra. But you know she talk, about that experience and then she auditioned for Richard Linklater, his boyhood, and was in, you know, the writing room with them and ended up being one of the last people cut from that role. And so, she was kind of experiencing a lot of this. And I was realizing this world was a little closer than I realized. And still, it was still very early on, but I was just falling in love with the before trilogy, and like waking life, and I was really interested in just say Oh, you can make a movie without explosions, you know and just people talking. So, that was the birth.
Ashley Myers: Yeah. So, let’s talk about you move to LA. I know, there’s a lot of people that listen to this podcast that are not in LA, perhaps maybe thinking of moving here, maybe you can give a couple of tips. Did you save a bunch of money? Do you know some people here? Where did you get an apartment? Did you have a job lined up? Just go through some of those things, kind of how was that landing in Los Angeles and what tips, what lessons have you learned?
Ryan Silva: Yeah, completely. So, I had about 2500 saved, my girlfriend also had 2500 moved together. So, 5000 was kind of not a lot, but that’s all I had saved my entire life. So, it wasn’t a lot but that was enough to pay that first deposit. We didn’t know many areas, we kind of Airbnb and all these different, you know whether it was Silver Lake and then North Hollywood, Burbank to just try to get an idea of the neighborhood, we found out we like West Hollywood, it was central to all these areas. And again, in the movie it’s kind of based on that story, as well that’s the area moved in. And first thing we did was this job called Instacart, which is grocery delivery. And you can kind of pick your own hours, and we’re delivering groceries for people and you know, making a living that way. But we didn’t know anybody, we didn’t have any jobs lined up. And we did that for a few years before I wrote the screenplay, and then decided okay, I need to get into the real industry somehow. And I just applied for a bunch of internships, and a bunch of like, assistant gigs, I ended up getting a job at a talent management company, which like, they manage actors to get them auditions and such. And so, that was kind of my first taste into, my idea was that I would meet someone who would help me make the script. And, you know kind of my same experience with music. That’s not the case you know, I’m not Nicolas Cage, you can’t sell a movie, unless it’s maybe a big premise but my low concept people talking in an apartment just wasn’t really going to.
Ashley Myers: Yeah. So, just quickly how did you get that job at the talent agency? I know that’s a great way for people to kind of get their feet wet in the entertainment is those sorts of entry level jobs, maybe give us a couple tips. How did you specifically get it, did you meet a friend eventually that gave you a recommendation? Did you just apply online?
Ryan Silva: It was, I remember the website entertainmentcareers.net and I cannot remember how I found out you know about that maybe I was just looking for all types of jobs. And you know, maybe it was Reddit or something. But entertainmentcareers.net and I applied to a few and in the meantime, I did some PA work. I found those gigs on like Mandy.com but I was just trying to meet people and ultimately, I did at this management company, and they didn’t necessarily help me make the movie, but they helped me realize that no one was going to help me make the movie, which was just as valuable like, I was working with actors, but they also function as a production company, a small one it only kind of produced a couple of documentaries, but scripts would come in. So, I did script coverage and it just became clear that nobody, it was super sad to me, as someone who likes screenwriting. They don’t read the script, you know they sent it to me, they just hired me off the street, they’re like I got a meeting in five minutes with this producer, tell me what to say and it was me and the producer, some of that times were some pretty quality producers. So, kind of, I don’t know what the word is but I kind of got sour on the idea of the whole industry and maybe it was just my short experience.
Ashley Myers: I think some of the just the demystification of the whole process is you get a look at these people. And I’m similar to you, I grew up in sort of a small town it was not, didn’t bump into any entertainment people. So, I think for me that was a big part of it just the demystification. These people are just people like us at the end of the day.
Ryan Silva: And I will say, it’s a little bit adjacent, but working in town management I was seeing a breakdown express. I was saying all my official job was and what I spent the most time doing was looking at these casting breakdowns. So, for instance, Ashley saw your breakdown sent breakdown express for your last movie, I believe rideshare killer. And so, I submitted our talent agencies actors on that, and it was so cool, seeing your name pop up. And again, I felt like, all of a sudden, you know it wasn’t the job I was looking for. But I felt like I had some sort of agency, some sort of power in the industry, just coming off the street and it did demystify it and you know.
Ashley Myers: So, take a step back as in your hometown, Abilene, Texas, getting ready to get a high school, what do you think attracted you to the entertainment industry? Did you have creative parents? Did you have creative friends? Was there something that you know, sort of sparked your interest in just like philosophically, why are you interested in pursuing this?
Ryan Silva: It’s a good question, and you ask it on, you know all these podcasts, and I wish I would have prepared for it. But my mom was not in the industry. We grew up, or I did I was single child is just me and my mom, you know single mother. We grew up in a trailer park, we have a lot of money. And she wasn’t the same industry she worked at. I mean, a dollar store and so for me, I think the thing that attracted me most is the same thing with music, is I just like to tell stories, and I think it’s because being around people who maybe aren’t as valued to like, you know America at large and society at large. I just always empathize with them and I thought they had a story I thought they were just as valuable as everybody else. And I kind of just to survive myself had to think that I was as valuable as everyone else. So, you know I want to tell through music I want to tell my story and I think what I like about film is I’m still learning and again, I’ve only written a few scripts telling other people’s story who, maybe you know are on the margins or not as represented.
Ashley Myers: So, let’s talk about some of your first credits I noticed on IMDb you wrote your first writing credit is a short-called Brit Follows. How did that come up? Just walk us through you’re new to LA it doesn’t sound like you knew a lot of people. So, how did you start to make some of these inroads you got I think you have an acting credit on the short and then as I said, this writing credit before you got to your feature.
Ryan Silva: Yeah, so we’ve tried to get that deleted from IMDb, you know, countless times any tips, any writers out there? You can’t, IMDb will not let you delete anything. So, that was actually, it was a 24-hour film challenge. I don’t know if some of you probably heard these and we had written the screenplay. I was just starting to kind of entertain the idea of making the script myself. And so, it was actually again, my girlfriend, Laura who was an actress, and Let Me Be Frank. She was like, let’s try this 24-hour or 48-Hour Film challenge. And we’ll see if we can shoot a movie on iPhone, because that was initially our first idea. And so, we did it, we did it we a bit follows. We thought it was good and it was great experience, you know editing and putting sound over in the end, we didn’t win, win. But it was important because we knew alright, we’re not going to shoot this movie on iPhone. And the other thing, was a music video I think you may be referring Plato the third, artist’s name. And then the other credits on there, the movie always be, maybe on Netflix, I want the licensed one of my songs to be in that. So, it was funny once I kind of gave up on the music thing and got this, you know film industry job. That’s when Netflix called all of a sudden, and they were saying hey, we’d like to use one of your songs. And it was like, and they hit me up on Facebook, just in my messages and apparently that never happens.
Ashley Myers: Yeah, never heard that.
Ryan Silva: Yeah. And so, I was like Oh, maybe I shouldn’t give up on music, whatever, whatever. But yeah.
Ashley Myers: So, let’s talk about your feature film Let Me Be Frank, maybe to start out just give us a quick picture logline, what is this feature all about?
Ryan Silva: Yeah. So, a young rapper moves to Los Angeles with dreams of being the next big thing. And he finds an unlikely friend and his apartment manager who had you know, similar dreams 20 years prior, you know came to the city for the same reasons, 20 years prior. And he we find out the movie that, he was an aspiring actor. So, it was just kind of like, to creative people get drawn to LA all the time no, it’s a cliche thing. But I kind of wanted to just kind of juxtapose the young, naive, a starry-eyed couple, it’s a couple of plays, a young rapper, and a young actress. And then juxtapose that with kind of someone whose dreams hasn’t worked out, you know who’s gotten older and maybe is a little bit more curmudgeonly and you know, better.
Ashley Myers: Yeah. That’s interesting. You say that, because when I first got to LA, I ran into and, it was a guy, he didn’t live in my apartment. He lived in the next-door apartment. And he was sort of yeah, I was a young kid and he was 20 years ahead of me, and he was exactly that he was a real bitter actor. Nice guy though, we had a lot, a lot of really interesting conversations, but I’ll be curious to check over. Yeah, exactly. I’ll be curious to check out, check out your film. So, talk about a little bit like, what was your goal with this film just again, creatively, financially, career wise, going into this movie, what were the goals and what was sort of the idea behind it?
Ryan Silva: And it kept shifting as you know, at first it was right, one page a day you know so, and just you know, write my first screenplay. And then I did that I was like; okay I knew I wrote it contained. And it was something that was makable. And I was like, maybe I can get in, you know I submitted it to like, screenwriting contests, and Sundance Labs. And I really wanted to, my main thing was, I want to be a screenwriter, I didn’t really have intention of directing it. I like writing, I like this a reason I tried my favorite thing about music is writing the songs. I don’t necessarily care about performing or recording I just like the writing. And so, I want to do that but then nobody would read my scripts. And you know, I wasn’t winning the contest and I still had the script of sitting around, and it was hard for me to just have a sitting around. And so, then the goal became alright. Let’s see what I can do and so, I gave my script to anyone who would read it, happen to be my neighbor whose kids, I was a nanny for at the time at, you know every day after school. And he read it and then he told me, he was Emmy nominated editor for reality TV that it was a daytime Emmy, but there was no one like that back in Avalon you know so, I was really impressed. And he read it like two months after I gave it to him. And he told me to come over and I thought it was just going to say hey, you know, keep trying kid, your first one and he said hey, you need to make this movie. I’m not going to let you leave this house so, you make this movie. I said well, I haven’t even thought about doing that, I don’t even know how I don’t know anything about filmmaking. And he gave me Robert Rodriguez book, Rebel Without a Crew. He said read this, and then make the movie.
So, I read that and I was like, wow! he had to shoot on film you know, we can just use these, you know we have all these advanced technology disposals 30-years later, maybe I can. And so, then I was able to one thing I got from my job is, my boss had a camera not a very nice one but it was a Blackmagic it wasn’t even the Pocket Cinema One, it was the older kind of clunky one. And we got that and the next thing I knew, you know we were, I was behind the camera just trying to make it happen. And long story short, we just kept taking it one step further, maybe we can make it nicer. We had some film students from LMU come and help us a DP, you know who was extremely talented, and they had the knowledge and I just knew the story. And so, my job is director, was just keep everything true to the story. And so, the goal ended up becoming alright, all the way from right one page today to, can we release this and can we finish this? And obviously, we submitted it to film festivals, didn’t get in, but we got on Amazon Prime. And to me, that’s, you know the end of the story and I way more than I could have bargained for.
Ashley Myers: Yeah, so let’s talk about your writing process a little bit. And specifically, we can talk about this script, but even just sort of in general, where do you typically write, when do you typically write? Do you have a home office, do you go to Starbucks, you need the ambient noise, you write in the middle of the night, you write first thing in the morning? What is your sort of writing schedule look like?
Ryan Silva: So, for this one, again this was my first screenplay I have written since but this one I went to the library here in Los Angeles, is the Writers Guild of America library. And just to be surrounded by this the screenplays on the scripts, so that anytime that I got hung up, I could just refer to you know, this Richard Linklater screenplay alright, what did he do it kind of act to, or whatever. And they had a lot of them at their disposal and I would go there from about 12 to five, every day, Monday through Friday, and it took me, you know my goal was one page a day and I say, okay, I can finish the screenplay in about three months or so. It took me six months, you know, most of the time just sitting there, staring at the page, I would come home and tell my girlfriend say, hey, you know how to go. I was like, I didn’t write anything. So, that you know but that felt like part of the process as much as writing three pages a day. So, that was my first one. After that I got some confidence. Now, I feel you know, I kind of right at home. In my office, I’ve written a couple cents, and just a little bit more confident to kind of do it sporadically.
Ashley Myers: Yeah. So, how do you take screenplay structure, there’s sort of the Blake Snyder or Sid Field, a very clear template. There are people that I think are a little more intuitive on the structure, where do you fall in that sort of camp, as far as when you’re laying it out and doing your outline?
Ryan Silva: Yeah, I tried those books. You tried that, you know Save The Cat and a lot of these philosophies, the Hero’s Journey. So, the thing that I do really like the Hero’s Journey is philosophy. But and maybe, you’ll notice when you watch the movie, I think there’s three acts. But it’s not technically structured movies, you know very much a dialogue movie, like, My Dinner with Andre was one of my inspirations on this, which is where’s the structure, there’s kind of through conversation. So, kind of intuitive, three acts do kind of thing, even three acts and I do, I guess, you use the Hero’s Journey, my small understanding of that, that book was huge. So, I just kind of took the main graphic, and attach myself to that.
Ashley Myers: Sure, sure. And how long do you spend in Final Draft writing? How long did you spend actually doing your outline?
Ryan Silva: So, for this movie, Let Me Be Frank. I didn’t do an outline and maybe that’s, you know I was happy a phase a day, because I wasn’t prepared. The second script I wrote was based on a book and I did have an outline, and I spent probably a week or two on the outline, and then just wrote a pilot based off that, and that took me a weekend, which was great. I don’t expect that to happen ever again. And then I wrote a five-page outline, and one day for my next script after, and I still haven’t finished with that one. But I think I’m doing outlines now is my point I think they’re hopeful.
Ashley Myers: Gotcha. So, I’m talking about them. So, you had a draft, it sounds like it took you six months, you had a draft of this script. What were the next steps; did you go through some lengthy development steps where you pretty much ready it sounds like you gave it to this editor for some potential notes, where you getting notes from friends, from your girlfriend, talk about the development process, and then how that ultimately got out of the development process and started being in the pre-production?
Ryan Silva: I think there was, there end up being quite a few revisions, the editor and who ended up becoming a producer. He did have a few notes, I had another. One of the other experiences I had early on here actually, met this guy, say his name, Jim Koski, who I just saw, again, my girlfriend who was aspiring actress, she found his casting breakdown on backstage, and he needed extra so one day I showed up to his production and he was kind of doing the Robert Rodriguez thing where he was holding the camera himself, you know controlling the sound had like the boom. And he was just also doing this passion project, he had gone to school at AFI. So, he had a little more experience, but seeing him you know, try to put a movie together something he always wanted to do. But now, he was kind of financially secure to do it, he was in his 40s now, you know I was like, okay maybe this is something I could do. So anyway, I sent it to him, because he was one of my inspirations that I could possibly make it. And he had some notes and things just getting tighter and tighter and, you know the store was actually based on my apartment manager. So, he was the one where the notes were the toughest, because he was like, this is my life you know, to some degree, and I had him saying some things that maybe he wouldn’t necessarily say, but I want to make the character more extreme. And so, I didn’t learn about trying to you know, which notes to try and take in and which notes might not necessarily be best for the story, even if they’re more accurate or more, true or something.
Ashley Myers: Yeah, okay. so, then you have a draft that you like, and now just tell us how did you take this? You had a screenplay and how did you turn it into an actual movie? How did you get some money, get people together, get a camera, just walk us through that process? And I think this is really important for people to hear, because you’re like, a lot of people that are really coming at it more of the writing angle and don’t have a lot of experience in production or running a camera, or grip and electrician stuff. So, talk us through this, how did you go through this process?
Ryan Silva: And I’ll say this again, you know when I wrote the script, I did the contests, I was listening to Selling Your Screenplay you know, every episode, my goal was, give this to somebody else. I don’t want anything to do this, because I want it to be as good as it could be. And my thought was, if I do it is not going to be and I thought the story deserve better. And so, when I didn’t get any, into any of those concepts, when I listen to some of the stories from Selling Your Screenplay, and I queried literary managers and heard nothing back, I was like, I don’t think I can sell this. So, we made it for about $5,000 and it was amazing. Things just started coming in. So, the first thing was the camera; getting it from my boss just so happened, he had one and we ended up not using that one but as soon as I got the camera and we said okay, you know let’s try and film and it wasn’t a real crew. It was a skeleton crew, it was me holding the camera, it was the editor holding the boom. And then I went on and found some actors to, see one actor to play Reggie and then the other producer was my apartment manager, who essentially played himself, and we shot it in his apartment. And so, it’s just about being as resourceful as possible. We used, I use people I know, who happened to be in the film industry and you know, we use their apartments and locations. So, that’s how it started.
And then slowly, you know people found out like, I went back to the job and say boss, you know, thank you for letting me use a camera when okay you know, and then he’s like, hey and he gave me a grand, he said hey, you know knock yourself out if you need this. And that was our first financing, I guess and it wasn’t a lot, but ended up being 20% of the budget. And then, you know my girlfriend’s father, heard we were doing it because she told you know, when she was helping too, we didn’t shoot her scene yet. But she was, you know part of the crew on that first day, and our father found out and gave his 500 and then my editor, who was holding the boom, once he edited the footage and realized that camera wasn’t good enough you know, he talked to his friend about this weekend, he has shooting this film, and his friend was like well, you know, you can use my, you know, Pocket Cinema Camera. I haven’t been using it for months and it was the newer version of the camera we were using. So, all of a sudden now we had a new camera, we had a little bit of money. And we had a new intern at that job I had who was from this film school, and he asked me what I did last weekend. And I told him and he was like, hey you know, summertime my whole crew has nothing to do we’d love to volunteer you know if you can pay for you know, gas and food. And you know we’d just love to get a credit and coffee for the summer. And I was like yeah, we have money for gas and food because we just got this 1500 and so, these things that’s how it all started.
And then next time we shot it was for real, we had this kind of production schedule we did four days in a row we did another four days. And that money went out quick for gas and coffee and then we rented a little bit of equipment here from Samy’s camera. Luckily, the DP and my editor had a little bit more experience so, they knew what to rent. And those eight days we knocked out a good amount of the film. Mostly it was interiors, inside my apartment room, inside my apartment manager’s room walking around the neighborhood, you know no permit, you know, no insurance, you know trying to be as discreet as possible. And then we kind of had a long break because then was like, alright well, our next scene is in a restaurant, how are we going to do that? We also got to shoot this in a barber shop, how are we going to do that and a church? And so, we kind of took a production break, and then it started being a thing, where are we might just have to shoot one Saturday in two weeks, because that’s when the barber shops available. And that was my actual barber as well. And then the restaurant, we just made my rooftop at work look like a restaurant. And my apartment manager went to his church and asked the priest you know, if he would be okay, and say yeah, you know just pay your tithes, or whatever they’re called, I’m not Catholic. And so anyways, and it ended up, we could get these things. And they luckily, they didn’t ask for insurance, because they were friends we knew and so long story short, don’t to go too much into it. And I guess the part is, the I did have to end up becoming the actor, because we realized, you know we don’t have any money to pay anybody. And if we are going to have to shoot, you know three months after initial, you know production. We can’t, it’s just not right to ask somebody to be available for free at that you know, that sort of thing like hey, we need you. And so, I had to I was the only person was definitely going to be there because I was going to direct the thing.
Ashley Myers: Gotcha, Gotcha. Okay, so then you got this film shot. Sounds like, the bottom line is hustle is contagious. You just talked it up and got a bunch of people just excited about it. But so, then once you’re done your film, what are the next steps? Did you submit to some distributors? Sounds like you went to a couple festivals? And then ultimately, how did you get it on Amazon Prime, what is the path to that?
Ryan Silva: So yeah, it was the same as a screenplay experience. You’re striking out, striking out you know, we submitted the festivals, and I kind of regret this now, you know I submitted to South by Sundance, Tribeca and I did, I think similar to those screenwriting contests, some of those lower-level festivals are sort of, you know they take your money, and maybe you don’t get as much from it. But I do think there were some middle ones that, we could have benefited from submitting from. But once we didn’t hear back from Sundance, Tribeca, and so forth, then I did look up a list of distributors. And I started seeing deals, not that they were offered to me, but I started seeing like, experiences reading by them on Reddit of the sort of deals people offer and I was like oh, they’re going to own our film for this long. And you know, we only get a percentage, some people were saying, still haven’t been paid from working with this one company. And so, I started thinking, you know what other options are there.
And I was inspired by another filmmaker from Austin, Jim Cummins, he made this movie Thunder Road and the Beta Test. And I think he won, like the Jury Prize at South by Southwest with Thunder Road. But then he didn’t even sell his film, even though obviously, had buyers because he won and he put it out himself. And there’s this case study, I think, on Sundance.com about how he did it, and how he made more money doing that. So, I didn’t, I wasn’t able to hit it off, like he did. But I did find this company called Film Hub, which isn’t your traditional distributor, but they take 20% there’s no upfront fee. And you can remove your film at any time from their services, so they don’t own anything, but they do give you access to I think it’s like at this point, maybe over 60 channels or something and they’re not all high-end channels, and sometimes genre specific like, horror is going to get different channels than our film did. But the main one that they have access to is Amazon Prime. And as long as you’re not making a short film, and your film is not a documentary, you have a pretty high chance of getting on Amazon Prime and it was important to me, every film will get on Amazon Prime to rent or buy, but I wanted to be stream able for free just so more people could see it because I thought that was, what was going to help all the actors get their work out you know, the editor, the screenwriter, director, and so we got on about six weeks after submitting to them and they also, have access 2B be which fingers crossed we get on apparently they 2B pays out more money because they have commercial advertising in between the deal at Amazon is five cents per hour. And that’s no matter where your phone gets on Amazon and then 2B takes 20% of that so, one cent you’re getting four cents per hour. So not a way you know, goals to make money. This is a not going to get it from Amazon Prime but we didn’t have a big investment in this movie to begin with. So, we’re fine. The goal was never to make money. And at the end of the day, we lost a couple of thousand dollars.
Ashley Myers: Yeah, I’ve heard good things about Film Hub as well, we just signed with Rideshare Killer with a company called Indie Rights. And I think they’re very similar, it’s the same deal. They take 20%, there’s no upfront fees, and they don’t charge you a bunch of like marketing costs and these sorts of other things, which are you got to watch out for as a independent filmmaker.
Ryan Silva: I was looking at that one too. And I think one of the perks of theirs, you know your trailer pops up, you know in their YouTube channel, they already have this community. So, that was the other one I was deciding between.
Ashley Myers: Perfect. Perfect. So, what’s next for you? What are you working on now?
Ryan Silva: Oh, yeah. I forgot those other scripts I wrote; I wrote a script that like a big premise one, and I’m going to try this whole selling your screenplay thing again. Hopefully, I can maybe get a literary manager this time that I have a movie, you know in my back pocket. And then the script I’m kind of in the middle of is another low budget indie one out there. I could make it for 5000 because I want to go back home to Texas. It’s kind of about the trailer parks I grew up in that I think I need a little bit more money for that one. But yeah, we’ll see I’d love to sell my, you know, what that’s called no high concept?
Ashley Myers: Yeah. Big budget.
Ryan Silva: Yeah, I’d like to sell my high concept one. And then ultimately, I’d like to make my, this kind of low budget indie one, again. I’ve no interest in directing the high concept one. But I would like to direct the low budget one. Sundance has this program. I think it’s just for sophomore films. So, you know even though I got burned the first, I’m still naive enough to think that, you know it’s worth trying again, so we’ll see.
Ashley Myers: Yeah, yeah. I’d like to wrap up these interviews just by asking the guest if there’s anything that they’ve seen lately that, they thought would be really useful for screenwriters to check out Netflix, Hulu, HBO, is there anything recently you’ve seen that you thought was really excellent?
Ryan Silva: it’s not really a deep cut or anything, but I just got done watching scenes from a marriage the new HBO.
Ashley Myers: Yeah, I’ve heard good things about it.
Ryan Silva: Yeah, you know, just a lot of, I mean, a lot of talking and a little, you know the tension between, like, you know just a few characters and that sort of relationship. And I really enjoy it, the acting was phenomenal, but you know telling the story of that relationship, and it spans a good amount, of years but there’s just five, one-hour episodes. That did it for me. So, I really enjoyed that.
Ashley Myers: Gotcha, gotcha. So, it sounds like Let Me Be Frank is on Amazon right now. I assume iTunes all of these sorts of places people could potentially check it out.
Ryan Silva: So, I don’t believe it is yet and maybe that’s one of the perks of Indie Film rights. Maybe I mess up but I know it’s on Vimeo on demand on the Film Hub page for 99 cents, it’s on I think it’s just Amazon Prime right now you know, our film has been picked up by those other channels so I was hoping for I don’t know how long be on Amazon Prime either, after come back and say if you want you know, I don’t know if he has to perform a certain you know, way to stay up but you know, it’s all for now, so.
Ashley Myers: Perfect, and what’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing Twitter Facebook, a blog, anything you’re comfortable sharing? I will round up for the show notes.
Ryan Silva: Yeah, I typically I just use Instagram the most it’s still in my music artists name @Platothethird, Plato the like the philosopher and spelled out the third. So, I mostly post about music stuff these days. But we also have @letmebefrankfilm where I’m kind of telling the story. How this movie all got made and a little bit more detail and how we got each actor in their story. So, if you want to follow that yeah, @letmebefrankfilm on Instagram.
Ashley Myers: Perfect. Well, Ryan, I really appreciate you coming on the show and talking with me today, very candid interview. I think this is very aspiring.
Ryan Silva: Thank you, Ashley. Yeah, it’s kind of surreal to be able to sell on screenplay. I didn’t even sell screenplay, so.
Ashley Myers: So, there you go. You made a movie. That’s, the ultimate goal is making a movie so, you’re good man. So, well Congratulations, getting it done. And I look forward to talking to you in the future. Next time you get your next film done.
Ryan Silva: Hey, you got it. Yeah, I’ll send you an email.
Ashley Myers: Perfect, man. We’ll talk to you later.
Ryan Silva: Alright, have a good one.
Ashley Myers: You too, bye.
I just want to talk quickly about SYS Select. It’s a service for screenwriters to help them sell their screenplays and get writing assignments. The first part of the service is the SYS Select screenplay database. Screenwriters upload their screenplays, along with a logline, synopsis and other pertinent information like budget and genre, and then producers search for and hopefully find screenplays they want to produce. Dozens of producers are in the system looking for screenplays right now. There have been a number of success stories out of the service, you can find out about all the SYS Select successes by going to sellingyourscreenplay.com/success. Also, on SYS podcast, Podcast Episode 222, I talked with Steve Dearing, who was the first official success story to come out of the SYS Select Database. When you join SYS Select you get access to the screenplay database, along with all the other services that we’re providing to SYS Select members. These services include the newsletter, this monthly newsletter goes out to a list of over 400 producers who are actively seeking writers and screenplays. Each SYS Select member can pitch one screenplay in this monthly newsletter. We also, provide screenwriting leads, we have partnered with one of the premier paid screenwriting leads services so, I can syndicate their leads to SYS Select members, there are lots of great paid leads coming in each week from our partner. Recently, we’ve been getting five to ten high quality paid leads per week. These leads run the gamut. There’s producers looking for a specific type of spec script to producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their ideas or properties. They’re looking for shorts features TV and web series pilots all types of projects. If you sign up for SYS Select, you’ll get these leads emailed directly to you several times per week.
Also, you get access to the SYS select forum, where we will help you with your logline and query letter and answer any screenwriting related questions that you might have. We also have a number of screenwriting classes that are recorded and available in the SYS Select Forum. These classes these are all the classes that I’ve done over the years, so you’ll have access to those whenever you want. Once you join the classes cover every part of writing your screenplay, from concept to outlining, to the first act, second act, third act, as well as other topics like writing short films and pitching your projects in person. Once again, if this sounds like something, you’d like to learn more about, please go to sellingyourscreenplayselect.com again, that is sellingyour screenplayselect.com.
On the next episode of the podcast, I’m going to be interviewing Spencer King who just did a cool feature thriller called time now, we talked through that film as well as his first feature film, a film called Black Petunia, and how he was able to get that one produced and then how that ultimately led to his new feature time now. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week. That’s the show. Thank you for listening.