This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 433 – The Myth Behind The Story .
Welcome to Episode 433 of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger over at sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing Philip Todd. He is a Scottish filmmaker who just did a family film based loosely on an old Scottish myth about a girl who meets an elf in the woods. And he turned it into a modern-day retelling of this Scottish myth, in his new film Jessie and the Elf Boy. We talked through his writing process. He really likes using old Scottish mythology in his screenplays and turning them into sort of modern-day adaptations of those. So, we talked through that process a little bit, as well as we talked through his process of just getting this script once it was written produced, so stay tuned for that interview.
SYS’s six figure screenplay contest is open for submissions just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/contest. Our regular deadline is May 31st. If your script is ready, definitely submit now to save money. We’re looking for both shorts and features. I’m defining low-budget as less than six figures. In other words, could this script be produced for less than 1 million US dollars. We’ve got lots of industry judges reading the scripts in the later rounds, we’re giving away 1000s in cash and prizes. This year, we have a short film category as well 30 pages or less. So, if you have a low-budget short script, by all means submit that as well. I’ve got a number of industry judge producers who are looking for short scripts, so hopefully we can find a home for some of these short scripts. If you want to submit to the contest or learn more about it just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/contest. Also, this year, we’re running an in-person Film Festival in tandem with our screenplay contest. It’s for low-budget films produced for less than 1 million US dollars. We have a features and shorts category. And again, we have lots of industry judges who will be helping with the judging of the films. The festival is going to take place in Hollywood, California from October 7th to 9th. If you produce a short film or know someone who has, by all means please do submit it. Same thing with features, the shorts are very, very easy for me to program, I can run two or three or even for shorts before a feature film. So, we can do a whole or we could potentially do a whole section of shorts. So, I’m going to be accepting a lot of shorts into the festival. Again, we definitely have a feature film category as well. But you know, we’re only doing it for one weekend. So, there is sort of a finite number of features that we can screen. I’m thinking we’ll probably screen about 8 to 10 features and then just we’ll be screening lots and lots of shorts, just depending where we can fit them in. But again, if we screen eight features, that will probably give us plenty of time to screen 10, 20, 30 shorts. If you have a finished film and we’d like to submit to the festival, you can go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/festival. And also, you will see us on Film Freeway, which is actually where we’re taking all the submissions. There are some complexities actually taking film submissions, so everything is going through Film Freeway, as far as the film festival is concerned, you can of course submit to the contest through sellingyourscreenplay.com/contest. But if you’re on Film Freeway, definitely look us up and it’s called SYS’s six figure Film Festival and screenplay contest and again you can find us on Film freeway and submit there if you do have a finished film. If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by give me a review in iTunes or leave 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 case you’d rather read the show or look at something later on can find all the podcast show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast and then just look for episode number 433. If you want my free guide How to Sell a screenplay in five weeks, you can pick that up by going to sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free. 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 logline and query 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 just a couple quick words about what I have been working on over the last week or so. I’m still plugging away, trying to get ready for this large NFT project that I’m working on. That will be a part of The Rideshare Killer. I’ve got almost all of it figured out, I know what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it. But I It could take me another month or so to actually execute. So hopefully I’ll have an announcement on that soon. nothing new to report with The Rideshare Killer. It’s still available on Amazon and Tubi. TV if you want to check that out. We’re still waiting to get our first revenue report from Indie writes hopefully that will be coming soon. But we’re definitely seeing some reviews now on Amazon so people are definitely finding the movie and we’re starting to get some reviews. We’ve been getting submissions for the contest and the festival. So, I’ve been looking at those and starting to watch some of those movies and read some of those scripts. Some of the early round, readers have already found some of the highly rated scripts. So, I’m starting to prepare and work through those and get some of those out to the industry judges. It’s always interesting getting the reaction from industry judges. At this point, I’m starting to get to know a lot of these industry judges, I’ve been working with them now for, you know, this is the third year of the contest. So, I’ve been working with them now for three years, many of them I’ve known, you know, longer than that. So, I’m kind of getting to know what they’re looking for, what they’re interested in, what sort of material they like. And hopefully, that will continue over the years. And then hopefully, we can really match some of these scripts, I really find with these contests, scripts, I get to know them, obviously, I’m reading a lot of them reading partials of a lot of them reading log lines, and just sorting through them sending them to the producers, I get sort of familiar with them. You know, certainly the top scripts, I get very familiar, I produce this the budget list at the end of the year where I sort of promote the quarter finalists and up the contest. So again, I sort of get familiar with. And I actually have, you know, producers coming to me and asking me for scripts. And that’s actually an easy way that I’ve been able to recommend some scripts. And I have a writer coming on the podcast, if not next week, in the next couple of weeks, who entered her script into the contest, and ended up again, I got a producer. This was months if not a year later, just asking for some writing samples. And she ended up because it was one of these contest scripts I recommended it, it was what this producer was looking for. And so, I’m going to have her on and to sort of tell her story, it’d be interesting just to sort of hear how it went from my perspective, I’m always curious about these things. But once again, if you do have a low-budget script and want to submit it to the contest, now is definitely the time because as I said the final deadline is July 31st. But the regular deadline is May 31st. So, if you submit before, then you definitely will save some money. Anyways, those are the things that I’ve been working on over the last week or so, let’s get into the main segment. Today. I am interviewing Scottish filmmaker – Philip Todd, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Philip to the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Philip: It’s great to be here. Thank you.
Ashley: So, to start out, maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background. Where do you grow up? And how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Philip: Well, I grew up in Fife for the first 10 years of my life, which is just a corner of Scotland just on the East Coast. And when I was younger, I really wanted to join the police. But then my life kind of took this big turn when I saw the Lord of the Rings movies. So, they have a lot to answer for in terms of my own life story. But basically, at that point, I kind of made the decision that I really wanted to be a filmmaker. And then I went to the Royal Conservatory of Scotland, which is a kind of acting school and music school and Film School in Glasgow in Scotland. It’s got quite some quite prestigious graduates, people like James McAvoy, Billy Boyd, and David Tennant. These sort of big actors have done the acting course there. So, I did the film course at that school. And yeah, that was kind of the beginning of the journey for me. I also went to London for a bit, did some acting as an acting degree in London. And then from that point on, I started making films making short films. Editing was my kind of main work at that point. And then I set up a production company to start making feature films.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. So, let’s talk about that journey a little bit. You mentioned once you got out of college, you started to do some acting, started to do some shorts. What were some of your first professional experience? Did you get casted as an actor? You started to make some money that way? Were you able to get some editing gigs? And how did you get those editing gigs?
Philip: Yeah, I did a mixture. So, I stayed in London for a little bit to sort of pursue the acting. And I guess my original thinking was, well, maybe I’ll just go for the acting and then later on, I’ll switch over to actually making films and to kind of behind the camera stuff. But for me acting was always just a step towards directing that I knew that ultimately, I wanted to be behind the camera kind of actually telling stories. That was kind of what I was really excited about. But for me acting was about learning how do you actually get a good performance? How do you speak to actors and understand that whole process of how to direct. So yeah, I had quite a few gigs of acting once I got out, nothing major in screen, it was a lot more kind of theatre stuff. And I did that for a little while. But ultimately, I couldn’t justify living in London. It was too expensive at the end of the day. So, I ended up moving back to Scotland and it was at that point that I just really started to feel the urge to go back to actually making films and doing the behind the camera stuff. So, I did work freelancing editing for a while. And a lot of that work came from really just word of mouth. I wasn’t seeking it massively, but just because people had projects that they needed edited, I had that skill set. So, I was kind of getting those opportunities coming along. And so that’s kind of what, ultimately segued into the production side of things.
Ashley: I’m curious as someone who went to London and then back to Glasgow, I’m in Los Angeles, so you know, probably somewhat equivalent to something like London, just in terms of the scene. How did you find the scene in a place like London? Is it a lot more competitive? Do you find you’re a big fish in? I guess, in Glasgow, you’re a bigger fish in a smaller pond, you’re a smaller fish a bigger pond? How did you sort of find that difference in terms of just get breaking into the industry? Would you recommend a smaller pond to kind of get some credits? Or would you recommend just jumping into the deep into the pool in something like London or LA?
Philip: Yeah, it’s really interesting question. And certainly, in the UK, it’s traditionally been very London centric. And if you want the opportunities, often you have to kind of go there. And, you know, I don’t know that I think that’s maybe changing now, because there’s some more than other studio spaces popping up in various places in the UK, which means that I think it’s not quite, London doesn’t have the monopoly in quite the same way. Yeah, I certainly have the sense of, you know, there’s lots going on, but there’s also everyone’s here, everyone’s looking for the same opportunities. So, you do feel like a very small fish in a big pond and that sense, but also, for me, being Scottish. And also, the work that I do is very linked to my kind of heritage and Scottish kind of mythology and such like so for me, I was quite keen to just be based in Scotland and try and just sort of make something happen there. And yeah, I guess because it’s a smaller pond, then in that sense, maybe you can make slightly bigger waves.
Ashley: Gotcha. Gotcha. So, let’s dig into your latest feature film Jessie and The Elf Boy, just start out maybe you can give us a quick pitch or logline. What is this film all about?
Philip: Well, it’s actually inspired by a Scottish legend, which is about this forest elf called Ghillie doo. And really all there is to the legend is that Ghillie doo meets a girl who gets lost in his forest, and he shows her the way home. And that’s kind of all there is to it. But what we did is we took that legend as like the kind of prologue if you like to the film, and thought, well, what if then years later, Ghillie doo this elf boy goes searching for this girl, finds Jessie in the city, she’s now working in a hair salon. And they end up forming this kind of like fun partnership, where he has this talent for hair styling. And they kind of rock it to theme together. And so yeah, that was kind of where the idea came from. And the idea is that it’s a sort of fun, family friendly film that the whole family can sit down and watch together. And there’s sort of some laughs in there, and also some kind of an emotional core to it as well.
Ashley: So, you mentioned this Scottish folk, or was this something that was always something you heard about people in Scotland just know this fable? Where does that sort of fit in? How did you hear about it? Or how did you get involved? How did you even think to turn this into a feature film?
Philip: Well, that’s sort of my main area of interest really is looking at Scottish mythology and legends as a sort of resource, I guess, for stories, because I feel like it’s largely untapped. And there’s a lot in there, which people aren’t aware of. So, I think the legend of Ghillie doo is something that probably your average Scottish person would not ever have heard of before. But I kind of because I’m interested in that stuff, I’ve sort of done a bit of digging and discovered it. But you know, there’s a lot and there are some legends that are kind of much more well known, and things like the Loch Ness monster, and other things like that, which are kind of more in people’s minds. But there’s, I’m quite interested in sort of just going out one layer deeper and seeing what the other stories that are rent that have been around for hundreds of years. And to me, there’s something about that if a story has sort of survived for that length of time, then there must be something in it that kind of resonates with humans at some level. And tat’s to me why legends and mythology and these sorts of things just really are very interesting to explore.
Ashley: Gotcha. So, let’s talk about the actual writing of this screenplay. I noticed that there’s three writing credits; yourself, Matthew Todd and Lindsey Stirling, maybe you can kind of just tell us, what did that actually look like? Did you guys get in the same room and come up with an outline and then divide up scenes? How did that collaboration actually function?
Philip: Sure. So, Matthew is my brother and Lindsey is a good friend of ours. So, Lindsay is a writer in her own. She also works as an archaeologist. But she’s writing a series of fantasy novels for young adults. And so, there’s kind of a lot of crossover that we have with her in terms of our interests. And Matthew, I’ve kind of collaborated with him, he helps out the production company that we have. And we’ve collaborated on pretty much all our projects so far. So that that’s kind of like a really just close working relationship that we have there. We sort of didn’t really get together in person that much over the process, we were more on just zoom calls. But really, the way it worked was that I guess I would kind of present the initial bones of the story like a sort of outline, and then we would discuss that and kind of flesh that out a bit more together. And then I would kind of go away, work on it a bit more come back to them, and they would sort of feed in again. So, I guess it was largely me doing the actual kind of like, work of writing it and putting the words on the page as it were. But then they were very much feeding in at every stage of the development of the story to kind of guide it and just maybe catch those problems that I wasn’t seeing, because it was a bit too close to it.
Ashley: Gotcha. What is your writing schedule look like? Are you someone that writes in the morning you write late at night you write in the middle of the day? Do you go to Starbucks, you need that ambient noise, just what is your actual writing routine look like?
Philip: It’s difficult to say because I actually don’t write that regularly, I kind of write in spurts. Whenever I’ve got a project which is at that stage, where if you know where it’s like we need a script, so then I kind of, sort of get down to it. But I have tried writing in cafes and things before but to be honest, I probably just get distracted, I start people watching. And you know, the stuff gets written, but just very, very slowly. So, I think for me, I probably have to sort of lock myself away in a room and just kind of get my head down and bash stuff out. It’s funny because I wouldn’t really necessarily call myself a writer, I kind of right out of necessity, because I needed I need a script to be able to then direct and produce it. So, it’s kind of more of a to me, sometimes the writing process isn’t even that enjoyable. It’s more just like something that needs to get done. But obviously there are those times as well, where kind of you’re in the zone and it’s just really enjoyable. But I think for me, what’s the more fun part of it is actually the kind of story development stage where you’re kind of coming up with all the story beats and figuring out who are these characters that you’re kind of getting to know as you work on the script. And that to me is a really fun part of this as it’s all starting to come together and you’re seeing it materialize and then you know, the script itself is more just a case of well, you know, we need something to then, a blueprint to then make this film. So, then it’s a kind of a case of going more into the into the detail.
Ashley: And how much time do you spend on each one of those? It sounds like you do quite a bit of outlining. And then going actually into Final Draft writing script pages, what does that break down to? Like just using Jessie and The Elf Boy as an example? How long did it take you to the outline stage? How long did it take you the actual writing of the script stage?
Philip: Yeah, I guess well, so it’s obviously kind of difficult to answer because this was an idea that we had sort of been floating around for quite a while. So, like, there had been different iterations of this idea that had never quite made it into script form from like years ago. But I think probably once we really started seriously getting down to it. I mean, it was probably a process of really about six months, I would say from the point of like, seriously kind of outlining it and trying to get the story developed and then getting that first draft written. And then I really like to get as much feedback on things as possible. So then once we had that first draft, you know, there was probably a period of quite, at least two or three months after that were sort of sending it out to people trying to get to get feedback and sort of redrafted them to make it as strong as possible.
Ashley: And who are these people you’re sending it out to? Are they other writers? Are they producers, you know, who are these folks you’re getting notes from?
Philip: Yeah, so some of them are well, so other filmmakers like the I’ve kind of come across and worked with people that I know that know the kind of screenwriting craft but also know me well enough that they won’t kind of they’ll sort of be able to really put their finger on things in terms of what I’m trying to do but also offer that kind of more objective feedback. So yeah, it’s generally people I’ve kind of collaborated with in the past, I really kind of trust their opinion and also trust their ability as so that, you know, writer or story analyst, I guess.
Ashley: Gotcha. And how do you approach screenplay structure, there’s sort of the Blake Snyder Syd field very much sort of a template with your three acts in your inciting incident stuff. There’s more of an intuitive approach a lot of the writers I have on seem to have more of a intuitive approach, what’s your approach to screenplay structure?
Philip: Yeah, I mean, I do enjoy the Blake Snyder book and that’s probably a lot I base a lot of my process on, I guess, as well for each project, it kind of changes a little bit. I don’t know if I always do the same each time. Because sometimes a story calls for a different approach, I think. And so, I kind of like to a degree, I like to go with the project a little bit in terms of where it feels like it’s sort of leading me if that kind of makes sense. But you know, just sort of sound out as I go and then feel like actually, you know, what this may be requires going in a certain direction with it. But yeah, I mean, certainly the like, save the cat kind of stuff. I’ve certainly used that as a kind of blueprint before for mapping out a rough structure. And, yeah, it’s the kind of thing I guess, is a good starting point. But then you kind of always want to be revisiting this. And, you know, if there was a formula for writing screenplays, then I guess everyone would be doing it. But I think that whilst there is formulaic elements to it, sometimes it’s better to sort of use that as a starting point, but then take a step back and then sort of go, well, it’s that whole old expression right from your heart and rewrite from your head. I think that kind of thing as well. Let your heart lead you a little bit.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Sound advice, for sure. So how do you approach genre requirements? You mentioned this was a family film, did you kind of know that it was going to be a family film going into it? And maybe you can just talk sort of more generally, you know, what sort of makes it a family film? And what are some of these requirements that maybe a distributor or a producer might have if you’re trying to write a family friendly film?
Philip: Yeah. So, I guess it was like family and comedy was the two things that I kind of went into it with, it’s like, I wanted to make something that was going to be fun, and light hearted. And yeah, like, certainly family friendly. So, I guess part of that was looking at just other comparable films, and seeing, you know, what’s the tone that they set? How do they do that? And what kind of humor sort of is often used. And I guess, a lot of the time, it’s more visual humor. It’s kind of slapstick and stuff that’s in there. But sometimes as well. I mean, Pixar, I’ve been a big fan of like those the kind of classic Pixar films for quite a while so. So, they also have those sort of jokes that are in there more for the adults as well, that kind of made me go over the heads of the kids a little bit, but just add that that extra layer to it. So that was kind of I guess, my approach with this is I wanted to make something that yeah, it was had that fun and kind of child friendly, sort of content in it. But also, there was a few, you know, some stuff in there that would resonate more for adults as well. Like, you know, it’s that thing of you want the kids and the parents or grandparents to watch it together. So, you don’t want one of those to be bored, ideally. So, yeah, that was definitely, always kind of in my mind from the outset with the script. And in terms of, like, the cut, like the different things that are required for that genre, I guess. Yeah, I guess it was, again, just thinking about what are the other comparable films? And also, yeah, when you mentioned distributors, I guess also thinking, you know, like, what is that audience looking for? And what are those trailer moments going to be? What’s the posts are going to be, those sorts of marketing things as well also kind of to a degree in form that that story right from the outset, I would say.
Ashley: And I’m curious, why did you decide Do you have just a love of family films, you have young kids, you wanted to bring them into your, you know, so make something that they could watch? Why did you decide to do a family film, like what was sort of the motivation there? And I sort of asked this question to a lot of filmmakers. And I always wonder, is there some sort of business sense going on? Had you talked to a producer or distributor saying; hey, family films are something we can sell as opposed to another violent action film or so?
Ashley: Yeah, I guess it’s a mixture because they’re certainly just a part of me that I mean, I guess because of film, as you’ll know, like a film is such a labor of love. And it takes such a long time that you’ve got to know that the part of that project that you know, is just so like somebody you have to do sort of thing, you know, to have the stamina to get through it, you kind of really have to love it. So, I think for me those sorts of films, family films that you can watch again and again. And just always enjoy that, you know, there’s the kind of thing that would be on, you might want to, all the family sit down at Christmas time and watch sort of thing, those sorts of films are the kind of films I like to watch along with other genres as well. But you know, I do enjoy them. So, that I guess, was part of it was just I want to make the kind of film that I want to watch. And that is kind of always a motivation. But there was a business side too, as well, which is that, I don’t see many independent family films being made in the UK. There’s kind of like, you know, Disney kind of has that monopoly on that genre. And I kind of feel like, well, that’s fair enough. And obviously, Disney have got the resources to kind of do that, but maybe people will also be looking for alternatives to that. And so offering something like that, I think there’s a gap in the market there. And certainly, that’s what we’re finding so far with Jesse and The Elf Boy is that that’s kind of part of the appeal is that there’s nothing else quite in that space existing at the moment, as in terms of an independent family film from the UK. So yeah, that was part of it, as well as to try and meet that gap, I guess.
Ashley: Gotcha. So, you now have a script that you like, you guys polish this thing up, what were your next steps? Once you had the script that you were ready to take out? What were those next steps to actually getting this movie funded? Did you send it out to a bunch of context, do you have an agent, a manager, just talk us through that process of going from script to actually getting funded?
Philip: Yeah, so with this particular project, we had already kind of gathered some investors that were kind of behind the project, even before we had the script written. So that was kind of based on, you know, I guess you could put together a sort of pitch deck type thing for the project, which you can use to sort of gather that interest in it. And then then, you know, once you know that, there’s that sort of sufficient finance in place, then you kind of can go ahead. So that was kind of the way we approach this. So, we already knew that there was enough there, provided we could be smart about it to actually shoot the film. And then we also did a bit of crowdfunding as well. So, we ran a campaign on Indiegogo to fund part of the post production of the film as well. And yeah, so the financing was very kind of like, we’ve had quite a lot of autonomy over that throughout the process, which was quite intentional, in the sense that we have had other projects that we’ve kind of gone down the more traditional route of sort of just shopping around for industry investors to kind of come on board, and that we sort of, you know, tried and failed at that in the past and there’s been kind of times where that has been kind of really quite difficult. I’m sure most filmmakers would have horror stories of like financing that was promised and then sort of didn’t come through and things like that. So, we were quite intentional with this one that we wanted to keep it contained enough that we could actually kind of maintain that control. And we could sort of be the ones that were sort of bringing the finance, in a sense to be able to then get it done.
Ashley: Gotcha. So, what is your pitch look like? You don’t have a script yet. And you’re trying to line up these investors? Who are these investors? Are they friends, friends of friends? Are they people that you’ve worked with before in some of your other films? And what does your pitch actually look like to them since you don’t have an actual script yet? What does that sort of look like? And really, like, I know, there’s a lot of screenwriters out there looking, oh, I’d like to raise money myself. So maybe you can kind of offer them some tips about how to approach investors?
Philip: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a great thing to do. Because like, you learn so much from it. But I think, largely with this project, it’s basically crowdfunded. But there’s a mixture of like equity crowdfunding, and then like, more kind of donation crowd funding. So, the so what we have is like a sort of group of investors who are putting in equity to the film, and that is, I mean, that’s a mixture. It’s yeah, some friends and family that’s always a good place to start. But then, you know, other people that are just less kind of closely connected, but are kind of believe in us as a film company, and what we’re doing as filmmakers and are supporting that. And I think with investors that I mean, ultimately, really, they’re investing in you as a filmmaker, primarily, and the project is kind of almost secondary. I mean, obviously, it’s important but I think for most people they want to know, can we trust you to actually deliver this and to finish it and then get it distributed? Actually, you know, do something with it. So, I think that’s kind of the producer role at that stage, I would say is to try and to show people that you’re legit, that you’re going to do this, it’s going to happen, and also to kind of have that sort of business plan, I guess, around the project. So, our previous film, which was called the Gaelic King had sort of we had sort of that experience to kind of as our calling card, I guess, to say; Well, look, we’ve done it once before, we know we can actually get a film made, we can get it out there. And so, we’re going to sort of do it again with this one. So that’s, I guess, part of the pitch is just saying like, this is who we are, and this is our track record. And then the project is also then sort of just, I guess at that stage, it’s like it’s just sort of sell the sizzle, as it were in terms of it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be a family friendly film, there’s going to be some nice visuals, lots of laughs. And it’s that sort of is that sort of thing that I think people want to know, at that stage. Probably more so than like the minutiae of what really happens in every page script.
Ashley: Yeah. And so maybe a couple of quick tips for people that want to do a Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Just how did you get that? How did you build a following? How did you get people to donate to the Indiegogo?
Philip: But yes, because it’s not easy. And I think often people fail the first hurdle, because they think it’s just a case of you put it up there, it’s like a build and then they will come sort of mentality, which unfortunately, is not the case. You really have to do a lot of work before you launch. And it’s about sort of growing, that base of people who are aware of the project, and also kind of already excited to get to see it happen. So that for us what’s worked well in the past is running our crowdfunding campaign after we’ve already shot the film. Because by that point, you’ve got a little bit of traction in terms of like, you can promote it a little bit whilst you’re shooting. But also, you’ve got something to show you can then put together a teaser trailer for the film. So, then when people come across it, they’re seeing basically a film, like to see that there’s something here is actually almost ready to go. And then it’s a lot more likely that they’re going to you donate whatever to get their park and they know that that’s likely they’ll get that park delivered. So, that’s what’s worked well for us in the past. And I think it is possible still to run very successful crowdfunding campaigns earlier in the process, for sure. But again, I think it’s about building that crowd of people in advance who are already excited about it, and then trying to you know, so that when you actually launch, it’s more, it’s more like people are already banging at the door wanting to kind of be involved and help make it happen.
Ashley: Yeah, and have you tried that before to do a Indiegogo or Kickstarter, before you actually shot? Was this your first Indiegogo?
Philip: No, we’ve done plenty of crowdfunding in the past. I think probably that’s partly why we chose this method, because we’ve learned from it in the past. I mean, I think probably, it’s something that we would happily do again, it’s just again, it’s sort of trying to have those feelers out in advance to know, what is the appetite like? And is it likely to be successful? Because I think so the other thing about crowdfunding for me is that it half of it is about raising the funds, but half of it is also about promoting the project. And it’s actually really good marketing as well, it’s a chance to get out there and get a scene. And so, with Jessie and The Elf Boy, it was actually to a crowdfunded that we ended up meeting Jack Ed, and then getting the just a distributor. So, you know, you kind of I guess there’s that side to it as well. So basically, you don’t want an unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign. You want it to be successful, you want it to really be a positive thing. So, a lot of that is just about preparation. And yeah, warming up that crowd in advance.
Ashley: Gotcha. Gotcha. So, I just like to wrap up the interviews by asking the guests is there anything you’ve seen recently that you thought was really great that maybe you could recommend to screenwriters, anything HBO, Netflix, Hulu, anything you’ve seen? Maybe it was a little under the radar?
Philip: Sure. Well, I recently rewatched a series it’s on Amazon Prime at the moment called Arn Knight Templar. It’s like a crusader epic kind of TV series. It’s actually Scandinavian. And I’d seen it previously in a form of film, but I hadn’t actually seen the full I think it was originally a series and it’s kind of cut down into a film. So, I yeah, I was rewatching that recently and yeah, I just really liked I think in terms of a crusader peace, like there’s something really exciting about that genre and the kind of knights and also kind of all the kind of corruption and stuff that goes on in that kind of world. But I think they did this really well. And it doesn’t have the kind of, I guess it doesn’t have the glossiness of like a Hollywood movie because it’s from Scandinavia, it kind of has a slight more realism to it, whichever you like. And I think just it’s some great characters and a great story. So, I would definitely recommend that.
Ashley: What’s that called, again?
Philip: Arn. A-R-N Knights Templar.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. Perfect. Yeah, that’s a great recommendation. I have not heard of that. So, I’ll check it out. How can people see Jessie and The Elf Boy, do you know what the release schedule is going to be like for your film?
Philip: Yeah, it’s already out actually, it’s out now on all kinds of being platforms. So iTunes and Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, so you can rent it or download it on those platforms? And yeah, that’s available now.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect. And what’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing; Twitter, Facebook, Instagram blog, anything you’re comfortable sharing? I’ll grab for the show notes.
Philip: Sure. Yeah. So, I’m on Twitter @Phil_Todd. And also, my production company is fellowship films. So, we have a website fellowshipfilms.com. We’re also on Facebook just fellowshipfilm and also Twitter @fellowshipfilm as well.
Ashley: Okay. Perfect. Perfect. I will round all those up for the show notes. Phil, I really appreciate you coming on and talking with me today. Good luck with this film. And good luck with all your future films as well.
Philip: Thank you so much. It’s been great.
Ashley: Hey, thank you, but talk to you later.
Philip: Cheers, bye.
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So just a quick touch on something Philip said in the interview, I thought it was so insightful, when he sort of made the point that using this old myth that had been around for decades, if not hundreds of years, potentially 1000s of years. There’s something in this story that speaks to the human condition. There’s some sort of primal interest that people have in a story like this. And I think that’s so smart and so insightful that, you know, it can potentially give your screenplay a leg up. And again, he’s not writing a period piece, he’s not retelling this myth in a old time timey type of a way, he has brought it into the present day and made it sort of a present a myth, but there is something sort of primal about this myth, it’s been around for many years, it’s resonated with people. So, I think it’s something that can kind of ground screenplays, I think it’s always good to kind of think about what is that sort of primal force, that primal interest that people might have in your story? And myths, you know, fables, things like this, that have been popular for many, many, many years, that is baked into it. And it’s not always clear exactly what that is. But grounding your story in something that you know, will speak to people is probably not a bad idea.
Anyways, on the next episode of the podcast, as I mentioned, I am going to try and have on the screenwriter who got a writing gig through the contest, so hopefully we’ll have her on next week. But I haven’t recorded the interview, so I can’t promise that, but hopefully. Anyways, that’s our show, thank you for listening.