This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 108: Screenwriters Robert A. Palmer & Michael A. Weiss Talk About Their New Found Footage Horror Film I Am Alone.
Selling Your Screenplay Podcast – 108
I Am Alone
(Typewriter Keys Tapping)
Ashley: Hello and welcome to episode #108 the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m Ashley Scott Meyers – Screenwriter and Blogger over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing Screenwriter – Robert Palmer and Michael Weiss. Who recently wrote and produced a low budget found low-budget horror film called, “I Am Alone.” It’s a great example of a low-budget film that did a Kick-Starter Campaign. They shot it in a small community in Colorado. And they used lots of local extra actors. We go through all the details of this, of getting this project off the ground with the Kick-Starter Campaign. And how they found this small town. And they got involved with the community, and got support from this community. So, if you’re thinking about your own film, your own script. This is a great lesson for you and as I said we go into a lot of nuts and bolts of how it all came together. So stay tuned for that.
If you find this episode valuable, 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 it on Facebook. These social media shares really do help spread word about the Podcast. So, they are very much appreciated. A couple of quick notes, any websites or links that I mention in the Podcast can be found on my blog, and in the show notes. I also put out and publish a transcript with it, with every episode. In case you want to read it, or look at something else later on? You can find all the Podcast show notes on – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast, and then just look for episode #108.
I continually build out the SYS Script Library. Thank you Ryan Phelps for sending in, “Train Wreck” “48 Hours” “The Incredible Hulk” “Harlem Knights” and “Hall Pass.” He sent those in and I got those posted last week, into the SYS Script Library. If you have a screenplay that you do not see listed in the script library? Please do Email it to me, the SYS Script Library is completely free. We have well over a thousand scripts in the library. And then hit movies, award winners, television show. All the scripts are in PDF format, so you can download and read them on whatever device you use? Your IPad, IPhone, your Kendle. Just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/library, again that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/library.
If you want my free guide, “How to Sell Your Screenplay in Just Five Weeks.” You can just pick that up by going to – www.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. How to write a proposal, a professional quarry letter? How to find agents, managers, and producers who are looking for material. And it really is everything you need to know to sell your screenplay. Just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.
A quick few words about what I am working on? I’ve been talking about this project for quite some time. It’s a spoof comedy that I was hired to write on last October. I finished up a draft, and sent it off to them a couple of full weeks ago now, I think? I did hear back from the producers last week. And they seemed pretty happy with the draft I turned in. So, that’s a good thing.
Signed and doing some quick revisions, I sent them a final draft version, and they are doing some polishes on that. Not exactly sure what that is but, they’re not writers, so? I don’t think they’re making huge changes to it. Probably just tweaking it, with some scenes here and there? But it sounds like they are ready to start moving ahead with that and getting that out to a director. And maybe possibly some cast down the road some? So, that’s a good sign, they’re happy to get that off my plate.
So last week I began an in earnest, writing up a TV pilot that I am working on with the producer. Who I met actually through my Email and Fax Blast. I mentioned this probably about a month ago, I met with him at, I met with him maybe a couple of times. And he lived through this, basically through the southern California 60’s music scene. He is a song writer, and a producer. And a, he wrote a lot of songs, he had a couple of hit songs. So we are kinda trying to write a script based on around that scene. And we’re kinda pitching it as an entourage in the Southern California 1960’s and the music scene. So it’s gonna be a 30-minute network comedy. I think I got most of the script outlined to a TV pilot. As I say, it will be whatever 25-30 pages. And I think I got most of it outlined last week. So, I should actually begin writing it up this week. Maybe I’ll spend another day or two outlining. But, I will probably have it drafted, if not done a week from this Friday. So, you know, if I start writing Wednesday, it’ll take me whenever for that by days next weekend. Maybe three days this week, five, six, seven, eight. So, yeah, by this week I should be able to be able to pump out a first draft of the twenty five page pilot script, here in a couple of weeks. The way it’s playing out is it’s kinda feels very much like a first act to a feature film. And which is somewhat ironic because I always give this note in my writers group. A lot of people put out TV pilots and I always sort of say, well hey, what’s this TV series really going to be about? It’s not like a typical, I’d say a typical network series where it just plays you know, on and on and on… I’d say this is more like an entourage where you might have twelve episodes a season. And you know, there’s definitely like a story arc you know, you would watch twelve episodes not so much like, you know, like community I’ve been watching recently. Where like, “Parks and Recreation” which I have been watching recently. You can pretty much log on it, catch an episode and I guess there is some story, some continuity to it, the stories. But something like the entourage to it. It seems like the cable TV shows there seems to be a lot more continuity to it, the story. You kind of have to watch them all. Which is very possible, now that you can just binge watch stuff. And you can just start at the first episode and work your way through. So, then it feels like a feature film. It feels like twelve episodes, which is like six hours of this 30-minutes each. So anyway, I’m working on that, and it’s been pretty fun so far and has not been difficult to write. As I say, I need to write with this producer a couple of times now, took a lot of notes. And you know, we sorta came up with a basic story. Just listened to a lot of sort of stories that he lived through and trying to incorporate those into it.
So, the other big thing I’m working on is my Kick-Starter Campaign. Obviously I’ve been talking about that since last August. It’s all live, it went live last week. So it has not been live a week yet. You’re listening to this today, it’s actually been live for a week. However, as I record this Podcast, it’s actually only been like for a couple of hours. Because I actually record the Podcast typically on a Monday. And then the Podcast episode releases the following Monday. So, Literally it’s a recording, it’s like 9:40p.m. I’ll release the thing around 6:40a.m. this morning. It’s been up about three hours. I have seven backers, so far, so that’s a good sign. It is a little bit nerve wracking. You know, I went to breakfast, so I got up and launched it. I’m going to be getting into some of the details of why this sort of went down the way it was? It was a little bit clunky the way I was doing it in the launch. Like I say, I’ll talk about it, the details in that in a minute. But, so more of a bit of more of my own feelings, a whole bunch of this thing? It was a little bit nerve wracking. I launched as I said, I say around 6:30a.m. I got up at 6:00a.m. Got my computer launched around 6:30a.m. went to breakfast there about 7:00a.m. I usually have breakfast with my kids, you know. I have a five year old daughter and a three year old daughter. We come down and we have breakfast usually from like 7:00a.m. till 7:30a.m. And then they head out to school. Today is actually Martin Luther King Day, so neither one of them has school. But usually that’s kinda the day time routine. And that was kinda the routine this morning. We went down and had breakfast. And then I got back to my computer to begin working around 7:30a.m. You know, it isn’t I get back to my computer and now my hitting the refresh button on my computer and Kick-Starter Campaign. And you know, at that point there was zero backers. And as I say, I launched it for about 6:30a.m. So, it had been live for over an hour. But I don’t know what I really expected? But you know, you always just hoping to… And then if you have a few backers trickle in since then, so that’s good. But, you know, there’s that moment of horror. And when you get back you just think this thing is just going to flop completely. And I’m the only one still, as much flop. But hopefully, hopefully it’ll, it won’t. There’s still the process, I’m still not sure why? Because I don’t think it’s necessarily the failure? I mean, I know this thing has a high probability of failing. And I’m not so much worried about that. But I don’t know, you just kinda feel like at some level you all want some recognition from our peers and you know, this kind of this vision. And so, if it doesn’t, you know, if it doesn’t get raised the money to shoot the film, I guess I will be disappointed. Anyway, so the bottom line is this thing is three hours old now. If you guys are listening to it, as I said, it’s a week old as I am recording this, a few hours old. But I thought I would just give some thoughts I don’t have, as I’ve said, it’s only a few hours old. So, I don’t have like a week’s worth of data, or interesting things to talk about. I only have, you know, a couple of hour’s-worth of interesting things to talk about.
I thought I would just run through some of the things that I encountered while setting up this Kick-Starter Campaign. I think this could be helpful to other people if you’re trying to set-up the Kick-Starter, set-up your own Kick-Starter Campaign? But even if you’re just following along on my own, hopefully you’ll find this interesting. What I think I’m going to do is? Release some mini-episodes, mini-Podcast episodes. And those will be more in real time. And as I said, these I’m going to do at, these Podcast episodes that I am, that you are listening to. This specific episode the one where I’m having an interview. There’s a little bit of production, I have to produce the thing I have to send it off to a transcriptionist, she needs a few days to approve the transcript. I upload it to a few other places, like, “ScriptMag.” That I found this Podcast script, “Script Mag.” I syndicate this Podcast in a few other places. So, I do have to upload. So, I need like a week, I could probably cut it a little closer, but I don’t want or like to have to do that in case, you know, there’s a problem. I kinda need a week to get this Podcast out. But, I think for the Kick-Starter Campaign I want to have a more real time sort of setting to be sort of able to talk about what’s going on. So, I’m going to be just releasing a few mini-episodes through out this
30-days I’m going to be running this Kick-Starter Campaign. So keep an eye out for those.
So, here ‘s a couple of things that I ran into while logging onto the Kick-Starter Campaign. As I said, hopefully this will help some people. I set it up to run for 29-days. Not the typical 30-days. And there’s a couple of reasons for that. I’ve read some stuff online, that in order to get in a Kick-Starter new and noteworthy, you know, to kinda get high priority on Kick-Starter? You want that first day to be as, you know, as power-packed as possible. Get a lot of donations and then, you know, it can kind of snowball into Kick-Starter can highlight you.
And by highlighting you, you can actually get more donations. So, the biggest way I have of promoting my Kick-Starter Campaign is through this Podcast. So, I want to put that launch on that Monday. And so, that’s what I did, I launched as I said, Monday – February 18th. So, I wanted to launch on that day. Then I went to promote it on the Podcast that day. And so the new Podcast episode launches on Monday. People will listen to that, and in the Podcast I will say, “Hey, my Kick-Starter has launched, it’s live!” Again, that’s the episode from last week. That I basically went ahead and did that. So, that’s my thinking by launching it on a Monday. And then the reason I launched, I want to end it on a Tuesday, was sort of that same reasoning, is that then that final Podcast episode that I publish. Again that’s kinda the biggest thing I have to promote the Kick-Starter Campaign. So that’s going to be on that Monday, I think it’s February 15th that, that episode releases. It’s basically gonna say, “Okay, there’s only one more day left. So, if you want to contribute to this project? Go do it now!” So if I did it, if I’d done it on a Wednesday? I was afraid that I might lose that momentum. There’s gonna be a final Podcast episode airs, and there’s no changing this campaign. Kick-Starter doesn’t let you like, change the dates or anything like that. So that’s a whole other hard date, I think it’s February 16th is it? The other thing is, you, the way I set it up? And this is something that I’d be curious to hear from other people’s thoughts? It was a little bit clunky setting it up, in Kick-Starter and doing it off. There’s no way of doing it during like, a pre? There’s no way of doing it like, scheduling it for a launch. Scheduling it to end, and that’s what I did. I scheduled it to end at 5:00p.m. on Tuesday. And that’s pretty much when I plan on ending working on Tuesday. My writers group is actually on Tuesday, Tuesday night. So I typically leave my house around 5:00p.m. on Tuesday, to go to my writers group. So I know I won’t be working after that time. So I figured, end it at 5:00p.m. I can get the final push, and I can send out that Email. You know, I’ll probably be inter-facing on Twitter, that last minute push. That’s why I end it right at 5:00p.m. In Kick-Starter you can choose, you want to end on a specific date? But you can’t choose a launch date? And I don’t quite know why? So what I had to do was, I had to, as I said, I had to set my alarm for 6:00a.m. Got up at 6:00a.m. I did a couple of tweets and then I launched at like 6:20a.m. or something? And then I had the hard date scheduled to end on that particular time. It would have been nice if Kick-Starter had the ability to just, say I want to launch it at 6:30a.m. on Monday the 18th? And the reason I had to do that was because the Podcast episode has links in it in the show notes. The Podcast episode that aired last week has links to the Kick-Starter, in the show notes, has links to the Kick-Starter Campaign.
Now, the thing is the difficult was, as I said, I publish these Podcast episodes a week ahead of time. And I syndicate them to “ScriptMag.” And this is somewhat difficult to go to and edit those posts. There’s an approval process, on most of these other blogs that I am syndicating it on. So I have to submit that days in advanced. But again, this is just, I wish Kick-Starter would give you the link. But they didn’t seem to do that, anyway, that I could see? I had to launch it then it gives you the link. Then what I did was created a forwarding post on www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. I created a post that would just automatically forward to the Kick-Starter page. All of these show notes for the Podcast that aired last week. I actually shout out to forward to a link to my Selling Your Screenplay Kick-Starter page. And then today at 6:30a.m. Once I got the link, I put that the actual Kick-Starter link into that blog post. And then that blog post automatically forwards. If you know you use word processor, you don’t let them blog. Some of this may not be pertinent to you but, It was just a little bit clunky. I wish Kick-Starter would give you that link ahead of time. So that you can kinda point that out. Like I set-up an Email, but I’m going to let you get to that. But there’s a variety of reasons.
Do I have a network to tie in that would actually be there? Valuable, but I didn’t see a way that I could actually generate my Kick-Starter link until actually pressed the launch.
I was also confused by the launch process, you know what I mean, you set-up your Kick-Starter Campaign. And maybe I’m just over thinking it and overly notice. But, when you are setting up your Kick-Starter Campaign, you know, there’s all the different sections you know? You upload your video and your story, and your rewards. And that’s all really well done, like the interface is really well done. But then on the far right there’s the button that says, “Launch.” I think it said, “The approval process?” So, but I wasn’t sure, I wasn’t quite sure what that approval process was? So finally I was like, I just gotta hit it, so I think it said, “You needed 3 days typical, or allow three days for approval, just for launch.” So, I was like, well, I want it to end on like, you know, this Tuesday at 5:00p.m. But like, I also wanted to launch on that Monday. I don’t want to launch it on Sunday. Because I want to launch it on a day where I can try to get the most contributions. So I get into the noteworthy. So, it was just confusing, it said, “To allow three days to.” So I pushed the button and like last week. And then I was like, and then there was another button, I can’t remember what it was, but I was afraid to press that button? Because I was afraid that it would actually launch. But they don’t of course do that. But they should make that a little bit clearer in Kick-Starter too. I was confused. Ultimately there is, like you hit “Yes” and it doesn’t automate it, the approval process. It didn’t even like leave anyone to actually like to look at it. It automates it, or automaticly approves my Kick-Starter Campaign after I was to press this button. And It said, “Okay, press this button to launch.” Well, you can go back and edit your page. It showed, or you can get feedback from Kick-Starter. So I was like, this was last week, I was like well more than three, it said, about three, get feedback from someone who works at Kick-Starter, but allow three days. I was like, Iee, it was last week, last Tuesday, like a week before I actually launched. Almost a week before actually, before the launch. I was like, I actually have three days, it should be fine if I get feedback. So then I put in, yeah, go ahead and give me some feedback on my Kick-Starter page. I figured they were the experts, why not get some feedback from them? And they came back with some feedback within a day. They came back with some feedback, but it was just like a cut and paste, like, okay we really like your page, to learn more about rewards click on this. It just sent me a bunch of inherent links that I already read. So, the feedback didn’t prove to be very at all useful. Oh, man, I was hoping somebody wrote and actually looked at my page and actually give me some feedback and no body did. No body at Kick-Starter did. But I found out a little bit confusing, but if you’re going to launch your own Kick-Starter I would say, don’t worry about it, just keep hitting the launch button. And it’s at some point it will say, “Okay” once you press this button you will be live. That the button you don’t want to press. But you do want to get it approved beforehand. Because I think you could run into potential problems if something’s not put up right, I did. And so I basically pressed this button and it just auto approved me. And then I realized at that point that, I can get up safely I can safely get up at 6:30a.m. – 6:00a.m. on Monday and then just press the launch button. And so that’s what I did.
So, I am basically trying to find a way to raise $12,000.00 on the Kick-Starter Campaign. And I’ve already raised $15,000.00. So, the total budget for this film is $27,000.00. Now, a lot of people have found that having the $12,000.00 or what was that based on. And you know, in truth like, because I’ve done enough low-budget films in my, low-budget films that I have some sense. I have talked to strangers and some producers who have left this. And some producers who have read this. And so, we are confident we can shoot the film on the $27,000.00 budget. And Kick-Starter, and so just call it $25,000.00 to just make the amount half easy.
So, we’re confident we can shoot this thing out of the $25,000.00 budget. That’s not going to be a problem. But, I basically raised $15,000.00 and not really as me and one other friend kicking in that $15,000.00. So I’m putting a lot of my own money into it. And then I also have another friend who is an actor who is putting in some money. So, the way I really arrived at the $12,000.00? I was reading, just in preparing for this. I was reading some information. And one of the suggestions that it had was, if 6% of the audience gives $20.00, would you hit your goal? And that’s a really a realistic goal for you to hit, So, I just did some quick math and I have a little over $10,000.00. I think I’m now up to about $12,000.00 each through Email addresses, through Selling Your Screenplay. I have about 12,000. I have about this. So, that’s kind the math I did? I, let’s see, my friends, and I’ve already seen some of my friends have got started on contribute. So, there is definitely not solely based on that. But I did for just some quick math, you know, I have over 12,000 or over 10,000 obviously. So, just to make the math easy. Say that’s 600 x $20,000 = is $12,000.00. That’s kind of how I backed into that number. It wasn’t as simple as liking ways more than that, that would be great. But I felt given my audience, I still had a quarter of a face. But, I found Twitter and Facebook to be particular engaged. The audience does not seem to be particularly engaged with Selling Your Screenplay. You know, more or less it is. I can tell when I send out the Email about my new Podcast. I get a lot of download stuff. I just kinda feel like conservatively, or not even conservatively, but basically based on what I was reading. That’s how I backed into this $12,000.00 number. It’s not solely, well, this is how much we can make the movie for. We can probably make it for a little bit less. I think we budget the movie. One of the producers I talked to was saying, we wrote around $20,000.00. Basically it gives us $20,000.00, if we can raise $25,000.00 it gives us $20,000.00 to make the movie. And then right now it gives us about $5,000.00 that we can spend on cast. You know getting maybe a one or two sort of slow name. Some sort of actor that has. You know someone that people have actually heard about. Or actually heard about some of the things they’ve been in? Just to give us a little more clout. That’s really going to give us help with distributors. I will definitely be talking more about that down the road. In terms of selling this movie and getting distribution for the movie cast is very, very important. So, if I can get far with $25,000.00 all, almost all that money, over the $25,000.00, who knows if I can raise more than the $25,000.00? Pretty much all that money will go, probably go towards cast.
So, I just want to talk quickly now about, again. And this is a work in progress as you know. But I’m just going to tell you what I did, and again, it’s basically based on sort of what I’m reading on how to run a Kick-Starter Campaign. So, what I did, and again, I have this Email list for Selling Your Screenplay. And many of the people listening to this Podcast are probably on it. On this Email list, so you can kinda see it first hand how about what I was doing? But, basically what people tell you to do? Is you know they tell you to Email all your friends and colleagues, and people before the launch is. And then you Email them the day of the launch. And then you Email them periodically through out the launch. So that’s pretty much the strategy I’m using. Well, the last Thursday before this campaign launched I sent out an Email in the morning basically telling them, people, hey, getting ready to launch this Kick-Starter Campaign. And the idea there is, you’re just trying to build a little bit of anticipation. Get people sort of thinking, “Oh, this is going to be cool.” And then they are keeping their eye out for. On Monday I started this Email that went out, but Thursday before the Monday I said, “Keep your eye out for, I’ll be sending out another Email when it launches. So, then I scheduled another Email to go out on Monday, the day it launches, the 18th. I think I scheduled that Email to go out on 7:00a.m. pst.
So I knew I was going to launch between, you know, 6:00a.m. and 6:30a.m. and then the Email would go out around 7:00a.m, you know, a half hour later. So, that’s kinda what happened, and that definitely generated a lot of interest.
Going back to my story of eating breakfast coming back and not seeing any backers yet? I did the Email went out as I said. I went to breakfast around 7:00a.m. so, that Email went out, I came back from breakfast around 7:30a.m. I had zero backers. But when I look at stats on
Kick-Starter? I did notice, I think I had like at that point 85 video views. So there was definitely people from the Email list coming and viewing the Kick-Starter Campaign. Meaning, which I thought was interesting, and also a little nervous. Because there was nobody had contributed at that point. So, and the other statistic I noticed was? But then again, I would be curious to hear if anybody else has something else to compare this against? Because I really don’t know? My video is like 2 minutes and 9 seconds I think, it’s just a hair over two minutes. So, I think it’s pretty short, do Kick-Starter. I think I had at that point 85 or so video views. And it was right around 50%, I was like 49.7% or something? It was right around 50% of the view stats in
Kick-Starter. So, 50% of the people watched the video to the end. So I’m curious to hear some stats on seeing a 5-minute video? Where you start to see that taper off. I’d also be curious to hear and see you know, like how many people get to the two-minute mark. So it’s essentially the whole thing. It would be nice to see stats on what the video length. I haven’t gotten that familiar with the Kick-Stater interface, maybe there’s some place or other you can actually do that? But I don’t know, it’s, It seems like a decent stat. And 50% of the people are actually watching the video all the way to the end. That seemed like a decent stat. But I would be curious what other peoplee are saying. But, anyways, that’s my chain of Emails; I did one before the launch, one right after launch, and then as I said, I’ll be sending right after further Emails. I’ll feel out the process, just updating people just as I always do. As sort of a mini-Podcast episodes just to keep you people up to date on what all is going out. So, from the first Email that I did on a, the Thursday before launch. I got a bunch of people Emailing me back, just giving me tips. People who have run Kick-Starter Campaigns and giving me tips. And I thought that was very generous, and I’m not asking people to do. That’s a lot of great tips. Martin Gucchio actually interviewed, nearly two years ago on the Podcast. I think it was episode #17? But you can look him up, he’s an independent film maker from the U.K. He’s run a bunch of Kick-Starter Campaigns. He wrote me a really detailed list, I think it was like, ten tips. And then it was like, one sentence tips, he had really wrote out some great tips for me. So, thank you for those. I’m going to be, I mean, a lot of the tips are going to be using and trying to implement. I’m then going to take all these tips that have, that everybody has sent in. And then towards the end of it, the Kick-Starter Campaign. I’m going to be drafting after the Kick-Starter Campaign, I will write up a blog I will post with my own tips. You know, all of the tips people have sent me that I have tried. Some that have worked, some that didn’t work. So, keep an eye out for that, if you are thinking of actually running a Kick-Starter Campaign. So, after getting these Emails and kinda thinking about what I was going to do to promote this? I didn’t realize one of the first things it was? This isn’t me necessarily thinking of this? This is people sending me tips, this is starting to think, “Ah, I know, this is what I really need.” Basically they are suggesting ways, there was a lot of ways to keep your audience and keep them engaged throughout the 30-day process. And so, you almost really need to have something new every single day. And you know, on Monday, is the Podcast episode that gets released. And here I am talking about my Kick-Starter Campaign. So, I think that’s one thing that I can do. But that’s over the course of the 29 days. That’s only going to be four Podcast episodes. I can’t rely on that solely, so, I started to kind of talk and think up new ways because it’s not just becomes a new piece of hardware that you can promo. And as an example, on of our suggestions. Some other people suggested this too. So, I thank all the people’s suggestions, I’m not just saying I only got Martin. I’m just suggesting, his suggestions were the longest list of anybody. But there were lots of good suggestions, thank you to everyone who sent those in. But one of the specific suggestions Martin had was, offering new incentives and rewards throughout this process. And I can see how that might spur interest. Oh, man, I think this is a great idea. Another idea that Martin had, which I think again, I have to figure out how to do this? But, was to network with other people on Kick-Starter that are having some success. And getting those people to kind of root their campaign out and tweet their campaign out. Because you know, people who contribute to your Kick-Starter Campaign are probably going to contribute to other Kick-Starter Campaigns. So, you can maybe, you know, kind of ride their wave, and vise-versa. And they can ride your wave. So, again, lots of great tips, and I’m going to be going about implementing these. The main thing I came away with realizing? And I didn’t look or realize this until you know, the Friday before I was launching. So, it was a little bit late in the game. To say, if I was doing this again, I would spend more time thinking up what sort of content I am going to be producing throughout the 30 days. And as an example I think the mini-Podcast, this Podcast is a good example. The mini-Podcast that I am going to be doing is an example, I am going to do some YouTube videos. I’m going to write some blog posts. I’m just going to try and create a lot of content that’s interesting that’s going to be helpful to people. And also spreads word about the campaign. So, if anyone has any suggestions, specific suggestions about that? Please let me know, and furthermore, as I said, one of the suggestions Martin had was launching some new rewards throughout the campaign. And that becomes a new thing that you can talk about on Twitter. You can send it out to Facebook, “Hey, we’re launching this new reward. So, if anybody has any suggestions about the reward? Like, what rewards would you guys want as screenwriters. What could I offer to you as a screenwriter? If you have any suggestions, please do Email those to me. And if I can do it, I’d be happy to offer you those rewards. So, if you have any suggestions, or things, “Hey, this would be cool if this was a reward.” Email them to me, and we’ll see if I can get it out?
Let’s see, oh, ya, one other thing I did want to mention, and this occurs to me as I was just thinking over the weekend. I was just thinking, you know, I’ve got to create all these 30 pieces of content that I can promote to all my audience. And one thing that does occur to me, is that my audience. Which is you, me, and all those who listen to this Podcast, my audience. You could get a little annoyed and sick of hearing me talk about this Kick-Starter Campaign. So I do want to be sensitive to that. So I will try not to talk about it a whole lot. This was kind of an exception. But going forward I’m not going by my normal Podcast episodes, I will try not to spend a ton of time talking about my campaign. And it doesn’t necessarily make that much sense to talk about the ins and outs because these Podcast episodes are not week delayed. But I will be talking about it in these mini-Podcast episodes. So, if you are sick of hearing about it? I will label those mini-Podcast episodes very clearly, as you know, “Kick-Starter Campaign – Update #1.” Or something. So, you’ll be able to see that they are about my Kick-Starter Campaign. And that’s all they’ll be about, those Mini-Podcast episodes. They will be five minutes, 10 minutes tops. Very quick just giving people updates throughout this 30-day process and then I will try to run it how much I talk about my Kick-Starter Campaign. And I won’t talk about it in this full length Podcast episode. And I would be curious to hear from you, again, send me an Email, and send it to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com And let me know? If You’re sick of hearing about it? In the Kick-Starter Campaign.
You can just say, “Yeah, it’s getting a little, we’re getting a little tired of it. Or if it’s interesting to you, let me know that too. And I can kinda gage the reaction of the audience and then talk about it, a little bit more or a little bit less. I will sort of like, branch it off and will label those Podcast episodes. So, people who are not interested will have already contributed or already checked it out. So they can skip ahead if they are already not interested in not hearing how it’s all going. Anyway, all there is to say, please do check out my Kick-Starter Campaign and consider it, becoming a backer I of course will link to my Kick-Starter Campaign in the show notes. So, just find www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast, and then look for this episode, just episode 108. Just look for it and click over to Kick-Starter Campaign. Social Media shares, Email it to a friend, retweeting it on Twitter, sharing it and liking it on Facebook. Those are very much appreciated. If you happen to see a tweet from me, or you see a Facebook post from me about the campaign. Please do “like it” and “share.” Those really do help, especially on Facebook. I can tell when I release my Podcast episodes every week. I think I am up to about 3000 likes on “Selling Your Screenplay.com page on Facebook. And I can tell, you know, that Facebook gives you like this little statistic that says, how many people saw your post. And you know, you get more “Likes” and “Shares” and they start sharing and showing it to more and more of those 3000 people. And hopefully it can kind of snowball past those 3000 people. So, if you do see my Facebook page, or tweet or something, please do just click on the “Like” button, just click on the “Share” button. I very much appreciate it. Another good thing I’ve heard from Kick-Starter is, there can be some people who don’t know you, who will donate. So, you just never know? So just sharing and passing on along, it can help. Your tweet, or your Facebook share could be the one that actually brings in some contributions.
So, anyway, enough about me and my Kick-Starter Campaign, let’s get into the main segment today. I’m interviewing Screenwriters – Robert Palmer, and Michael Weiss. Robert, actually they both produced, but Robert was actually also the director of the film. So, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Robert and Michael to the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Robert: Absolutely, thanks for having us on.
Michael: Yes, thanks for having us.
Ashley: So, just clear things on your voices. Your voices sound so similar. Maybe you could just introduce yourselves a little bit, just say your name. For the audience so they can tell which one’s Robert and which one’s Michael?
Robert: I am Robert, I am the Director and Co-Producer of “I Am Alone.”
Michael: And I am Michael, and I am the editor and producer and Co-Creator of “I Am Alone.”
Ashley: Okay, perfect, perfect. Maybe we can start out just get a little brief kind of history of how you got into the entertainment industry and kind of worked your way up? To getting to the point where you guys are out producing, writing and producing your own feature film? Michael, maybe you could start?
Michael: Yeah, yeah. I would say, I moved out to Los Angeles in 1979 at and started working in commercials and social videos, like MTA. It was almost immediately I had a couple of friends who had worked out here in the industry for a long time. And they kinda threw me into work. But I kinda worked for a couple of years, worked my way up to Office Manager. And, I don’t know, there’s pretty easy transitions coming out to LA, which is nice. But we doing what we want to do, but honestly, I segued into reality TV. Where I was, I wanted to work in post, but I kinda ended up working in camera. Which was a lot of fun. And I finally said, “I need to work in post.” And transitioned into Post Production. But, I mean, all throughout this rapid rise through writing took a very long time. And just keep writing, we were I think for the first time find ourselves outlaws, confident to write, you know? But, then honestly, we just become the center, to make our own projects. And Robert started directing his own, and we started collaborating together. But I wasn’t told until ’08 or ’09? We think about of doing films, ya know? And do an actual feature. But you know, we kinda used all our resources from where we had come from, the last 15-16 years. From reality TV and commercials and this.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And did this where did you move from?
Michael: A we’re both Philadelphia, where I was, we were best friends. We’ve known each other for 10-25 years. We went to high school together.
Robert: Film school.
Michael: Right, right. Yeah, we’ve known each other a long time so, we’ve been together for a while now. So, it’s a knowing each other as long as we have now. We do, it makes it easier to write now, write you know, like as one.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So let me just touch on one? You said, okay, you moved from Philadelphia, to Los Angeles. You’re gonna get these productions assistants jobs. And you said you had a bunch of friends, were you working in sort of television and production things? Philadelphia, where you made these connections? What were these friends, what were these friends?
Michael: No, no. I mean, my, it was like a family friend. She was a wardrobe designer. Her name is Jennifer Lay, and she’s a wardrobe designer. And she helps me kinda just get stuff. And started working in the industry. And they kinda pointed me in the right direction, of how to keep working on crews. And they’ll allow me to explore every department. Her husband, Adam was a production designer. So I got to work a lot with him in the Art Department. And then kinda find my way. Like, I really like working in commercials, and I like, you know, being on set a lot. So, You know, kinda working as VA, with some of them it was fun in the early going. You know, finding my direction was what I needed to do. So, I set off on to the average day. And in the camera department and the props department. But I really found my love of post of editing through reality TV.
Ashley: Okay, Robert maybe you can just give just a brief background of how you got started too?
Robert: Yeah, my story, I, making movies was always in my blood. I was always the kid, my mom, you know, who wouldn’t help. We would make pockets of like, stories. I’ve been making little pockets of shorts since I was like, ten and twelve. And like, all of local police knew, so I always knew. I received phone calls all the time, about this strange kid making movies. But I think it’s just been in my blood for a long time. And then, I went to the Art Institute in Philadelphia, got my degree. And then I, right out of school, I DP’ed a film in Philadelphia that never saw the light of day. And I realized like, I liked it an wanted to keep doing it more for myself. And then like, early 2000’s I actually directed a air quote feature? That was loaned out on credit cards and like, I didn’t know what I was doing? And I was like, 23, never got to ultimate. And I fell in love with it. And I one day hoped it would be released as a special feature. yeah. And now, and then, when I moved out to LA, a couple of years after Mike. I was doing other things. I worked with a bunch of comedians. I would shoot, like, their specials and stuff. And then Michael actually, he got me a job in reality TV. And mid-2000’s, and then I just stayed in reality TV. And I’ve worked on every type of show. “Extreme Home Make-over – Home Edition” to “Gene Simmons Family Jewels.” I just worked last year on “Hell’s Kitchen.” And I remember others, but all along that process. Michael and had been writing, I have directed other short films. And sort of never did a feature, but the feature bug never left me. And then in 2011, I think? Yeah, the idea for “I Am Alone” kind of came about, sort of merged both University and Rowdy TV. Which we both had experience in making a narrative feature.
Ashley: Let’s talk just a minute about this feature film you did early on. You said, “Or saw the light of day.” I’m curious, can you kinda just recap that story? Why didn’t it see the light of day? Why couldn’t you find a distributor to get it to festivals or anything?
Robert: So, the movie was called, “The Potsky Chronicles.” Which “Potsky” is where hockey gets it’s term for like messing around. Nina, and another friend of mine Eric Carlos. We both went to the Art Institute, we had been friends for years. And we had made this sort of “Pink Panther” groupie movie. We shot it on an XL-1. We brought actors out to New York and we shot it in Philly. But we didn’t know kinda what we were doing? Like, we had no props up, I mean, you know, like not game. Like acting like we were all hunting and, we thought, “Oh we can make that old movie.” And I finished this other film that I was DT’ing. But I learned all this other stuff on this film, we’ll make our own. And stumble through, we edited on, you know early final cut.
Michael: and there was yeah, final cut one yeah.
Robert: And then we were like kinda done. And we were like, and others asked us to move to LA before I did. So, I finished the film and we came out to LA. And we thought, okay, great, we have this stupid little movie. It wasn’t stupid, I just mean like, it was like no one knew about this film. There was no actors no. And we had visciously, Eric and I drove out to the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. Not that we got in, we only just had a copy on VHS, and we were like leave it on buses and we were trying to give it to anybody.
And as it turns out a couple of people picked it up and wanted early west brice had early video streaming, this was before broadband. They were going to pick up, they were going to charge us $9.00 a pilot. You know and $3.99 to rent it, you know. And the Westbrook hit the theaters. Like it was 2003 it just didn’t exist. And then I think Michael and I were still working on a show in Jamaica. And I just happen to type in the movie and it turns out it was at all the film festivals that I didn’t even know about?
Michael: What ever you did even submit to it.
Robert: Yeah, I never submitted it. I didn’t know. So either this company or something else happened? So, a that was it, it just appeared and I didn’t know what to do? And you know, it was a very, very, raw stupid comedy. You know, at least it.
Michael: Yeah, no, it was funny.
Robert: But it would have never done anything. So, as far as I started to changing my gears and ending up with something, like reality TV? And wanted to do other things than comedy. It was all other than Sci-Fi, Drama, and crime.
Ashley: So, let’s talk about some of the short films you guys have done over the last few years. I know that you sometimes have a few short film credits. I know short films is something I recommend to the screenwriters on the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. It was just a great way for you to just break in. Even if this film is short film never really goes anywhere, it’s a great learning lesson. So, maybe you can talk about some of your short films so what lessons you learned? What you did with those? And kinda how they helped your career?
Michael: A well, in 2007? I guess I had written “A Future” called, “The Legion” which You know was the best reference of a movie of the deal of movies on like Thursday. I think, from the late ‘90’s? It was a multi-layered full story of different characters. And all their lives intersecting and whatever with each other. And a, I wanted to really make something fun to watch. I’ve always been a fan of, like David Judus, you know, his writing. His folk novels and a lot of those early titles and things. The kind of things we put in the “Potsky Chronicles.” He had all these like these old criminal war kind of hilts. So we went out to make, “The Legion,” And we had temporary stories set in Los Angeles for one night. And it was like a revenge fance story. And we shot all over LA, And it was cool, it was the first for LA Production that cultivated a story for proloft story that I was working for somebody. And it got into a bunch of festivals. And that was cool, little story, like, okay I need to follow this path. And It was a great, literally really great actors. And who we shot for like 3 or 4 days in LA. And yeah, that was before we were headed to Strong Film Festival. Monrovia, and a couple of others. And again, I didn’t know the process to us there? So, It kinda took like, okay, I just moved onto the next project.
Ashley: Now, you said you wrote it as feature, and then you shot it as a short?
Robert: Yeah, so, we took elements of the story and the characters. So, there’s a much more expanded universe. Per what pieces of that story would have been about? And a much shorter version. I think it ended up being like 12 or 13 minutes.
But, you know, a full length feature, and I don’t think, it’s been a long time since we visited that story? But, I threw in the beginning and the end. So to tell what could possibly happen in that story. And there was so much more story in the middle, than that expanded. And then that lead to making, “We the People of Earth.” Which was the next evolution. Now, we were definitely more in to like, Sci-Fi, horror. And when you work in reality TV? It’s honest, a full time job. So, right in front of and trying to produce on the side. But when you have somebody else’s, you know, show to worry about and those are pretty strong responsibilities. So, it’s in making, “People of the Earth” so it contained a story inside. And so, I caught the entire film, it takes us inside of cars. It’s about a bunch of people driving to a wedding. And then it’s an alien invasion movie at the very end. So, it was a, very much like a para-normal activity. And that, due to the constraints and that of budget and time. And like physical time.
Ashley: Now, was that also written as a feature but shot as a short. Or was that written specifically as a short?
Robert: A so, “People of Earth” was interesting, since I actually have like a full universe I created. So, the short was a “Stand alone” short. I also had a different feature, like a stand alone short. That won a bunch of awards. And I was really happy with what took place in Los Angeles, I was just like, three people driving up the Pacific Coast Highway. And I wrote the feature separately, that was set in Philadelphia. That was not strong footage that was straight and narrative. Same idea, same alien, the same types of things happening. It was one story set in Los Angeles. And I knew that I could eventually write. But as a strong feature, but really a separate Co-feature written at the same time.
Ashley: Okay, now, curious? Obviously this is “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” So, I’m curious, would it be a feature film script? Did you try and like sell them as flicks? Or did you get some package where there’s some attempts where there’s stuff on Ink-Tip. Obviously you’re working in the business, so there’s, you’re handing scripts out? Trying to get some momentum on them as future projects?
Robert: A yeah. At the time we were definitely reaching now, some quarry letters. But, at that time about 2007-2008-2009. Mike and I were doing a lot of the “Pitch Fest.” So, we had written some of those screenplays together.
Michael: But yeah, we had a, one of those scripts optioned around.
Robert: Yeah, ’03-’04. All hardships and yeah, we had been writing a lot. And I think first of our collection. And it got us into a lot of people’s hands, a lot of our scripts. These were the ones we had a video game based off of it. And action script it was a top movie we got into people’s hands. But, nothing ever materialized. Which is another reason, why we decided to, okay, we’re just going to go out and do it ourselves. And do these things ourselves. Because it is a very much, it is very hard in this industry to get your script into the right hands. And so you can actually make it.
Michael: For the right reasons.
Robert: Yeah, for the right reasons. And you know, like, an option where we a optioned for a better option deal, for the past. We kinda sat around from about three years.
Robert: Except for the option, which was lined. We were happy that we were found a home. But, I think for a personal reasons the short film version, showed more of our directing, more of our artistic production side. With limiting our directing we were an exact team in our writing. So, it was all sort of in the same realm of write and direct and stuff. It took us a while for the screenplay. But we were always pitching our other projects as well.
Ashely: Yeah, yeah. I just want to touch on and then we will dig into “I’m Alone.” And then we are going to really talk about that one. I just want to touch on one thing? You keep saying, you said it a couple of times, you did this movie. But, didn’t have a process and you didn’t know the process? Maybe you can tell us now, some experience behind you, what is that process you’re talking about?
Robert: Well, a in a nut shell it’s knowing, not just the story, not just your characters, not just your actors, know where the time is going. The reason we are still learning through distribution. Like the things that you use that writers, if you’re going to write and direct. You have to think everything through literally. And people talk about that with us, not just the physically involved in it. You just have no clue. Like, Michael and I wrote it, “I’m Alone” in 2011. With not knowing how to raise money. And Raising money through the Kick-Starter Campaign. And understanding, you know, the aspects of running a business, and then, it’s not just the creative side. You know, we could be writers and I think that’s what we’re trying to do? It’s funny, just write and somebody will buy it, our script. But, as a producer you have to think everything through. Understanding the materials, even before you start writing. Can this script be marketable? Can you find a home, is it a genre film? It’s Not just a coincidence, that Michael and I decided to make, “I’m Alone” a genre film. That is a tragic method of either Sci-Fi Horror. Is there a great way for film makers, for writers to show their innovation?
Michael: And I think Rob touched upon; a little bit of the distribution side. And I think as a film maker walking in to maybe the movie business as an unknown. I think the distribution side is the something nobody knows how to do. I think no body knows how to do it, and no body tells you how to do it?
Robert: But you fail at it after a thousand times, before you find the right direction to go in. And I think that would, that’s one big deal for the film maker? When you’re just a film maker and you don’t realize how much of a producer you have to be. And the bigger side of it, and you have to now kinda think, “Okay, now we have to sell this. I can’t just submit it to festivals and hope for the best, you know? You have to be doing so many other other things. As long as well as festivals.
Michael: You have to have an understanding of the positioning.
Robert: Yeah, yeah exactly. Where you can start, where your film sells. The markets you can reach? You, showing, who’s in your film where they’re loved. They’re what domestically, internationally, or whatever?
Michael: Yeah, that sort of has to be like conceptualized at the writing stage. And that’s something when I was 23 and I made, “The Potzky Chronicles.” I just wanted to make a thrilling comedy, with good actors, and show we can do with no money. But, you know, I remember back at summer. Who were the actors in your movie? We had no body, it was literally like, no one they would have recognized. So, yeah. So now, we’re stepping off and going on to “I’m Alone.” We’re very much like a, okay, who can we get? How do we touch that?
Robert: Okay. So, you know, so we were fortunate enough to get those guys David Bowie. Whom I was fortunate enough to meet at some festivals. In the Friday Night Film Festival in Kentucky. And it’s a horror festival, but they want a Sci-Fi block. And they accepted “People of Earth.” We didn’t win any awards, but out of that we had that. Michael and I had already been writing where, “I’m Alone” in Kick-Starter, the first one, showing at that time. And we said, “Alright, if we can get one guest, if we could put somethings in place? This thing will have, you know, a life of it’s own.”
Ashley: Okay, so let’s dig into “I’m Alone” I think that’s a great answer. I think it’s something for people need to listen to and re-listen to, because I totally agree. That it’s complicated with just writing a great script. Or writing a script you think is funny. So, let’s dig into, “I’m Alone” And maybe to start out, you could just give us a quick pitch, or log-line for this film?
Robert: A, “I’m Alone” is a story of Jacob Fits a reality TV wilderness survivalist. Who, by the concept of the show, goes on the wilderness much less, needs to survive on his own. And his time and research his friends, are shooting separate content. And they need to, you know, shoot what they are doing. And eventually there’s a zombie outbreak, and Jacob gets bit, and we follow his and Jacob Fits and his transformation. We wanted to tell a isolating story of one man. We had budget limitations, And this time we didn’t even know where we could shoot it? Eventually we got lucky shooting on a mountain in Colorado. But, the concept was simply, we got a man dying. And we wanted to show what that situation would be like?
Ashley: Okay, and so where does this idea sort of come from? You guys mentioned you work in a lot of reality TV shows? Obviously that was a part it, but we need to talk a minute about where this kind of story germinated?
Robert: Sure, yes, I think that a having a reality TV background. And knowing the limitations of our budget or what our budget would be. I think it was a perfect fit. As in, to tell a story, we kinda, always, always like to have our films to how the, “Shining” feels. It’s like these three people running amock, within these among those locations. So that’s what we kinda wanted to see with our characters. And being able to use Gary in the mountains. Like kinda hoped that out. Kinda put it in one location, which helped out the film.
Michael: And we also studied many films like.
Robert: like, I love, like one of my favorites films is the “Cube,” not like all-time favorite. But we’ve always done films in one location. Films, I think we both, like, really studied like, how to do, you know, limited things, limited things happening. Always not by the actors, or.
Michael: Yeah, the reality shooting that is all help because how fast reality TV is. You have to shoot, and you have to kinda create the story. You know the basically over all the elements of the story. But there are some stories that you can create. So, In the script, you know, that was built into the script. So that when we got out there, just as a natural feel, when we made three or four attempts with around the actors, and just have them act.
Robert: And from a more of a narrative stand point. We also need, we had liberty to be on velcros. We need to shoot on the right channel, we didn’t need to do all this fancy stuff. We need it to be gritty. And to be honest with you Michael, I gave up enormous span of footage film. Just because most of them still seemed to most running. Then there are exceptions, you know, there are a lot of stories, films, there are a gluttony of films upon footage of, I thought we could make it. See, we were inspired to make more.
Michael: To do, like something different. An intense knowledge inspiration to some degree.
Robert: So, the camera doesn’t shake that much, you know.
Michael: Yes, it does. Yeah, let the actor be all in front of the camera the whole time. Like, It just has to be like an actor’s dream to have the camera on him the entire time.
Robert: You know, we’re not deviating from that. So, from what we’re building. So, I think that’s so all lending it’s self to creating, “I Am Alone.”
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. One thing that surprised me about the film. I mean, I kind of understood the log-line. And even listening to the pitch now? Honestly, it sounds much more contained than it actually is, and maybe just good use of your production wise. But it’s a pretty big crowd scene, you have those scenes where hoards zombies are coming out. So it actually falls, a lot less contained than some of your pitches makes it. Was that a concern going ino that the budget, with the small town, you had all these people learning to be extras for free? How did that kind of expand beyond that just what you’re talking about?
Michael: Well, the first one we wrote. We were writing the script of, we wrote it with a kind of the town in mind set of Robert and I. A let’s just 40 zombies
Robert: and hoards of zombies a group. And we didn’t know what we could get out there so, we had to write what we saw and thought we could get, in a reasonable fashion. But, a we started talking to the town of Montrose. We opened up a dialog for at least a year, a year and a half. Again we came to the town a few times. We introduced a few times. And interviewed folks in the town a few times.
And then we had a zombies walk that co-in-sided with we decided, with our Kick-Starter. And our zombie walk was held in Montrose. The entire town turned out and participated. And we told them that we’d like to shoot our film there and we would love the help of the entire town. And I gotta say that, the entire town of Montrose, the citizens were open.
Robert: I have to say, they kinda gave us everything that we needed. And I mean, everyone came out. And like I said, on the day when we wrote the script, you know, 30-40 zombies on the day we shot. They brought out 200 you know.
Michael: Yeah, we had 259 a extras and they came out multiple times to be involved.
Robert: The script actually involved, from like the content and context. And there are only a few seconds in the town, you know, that was just a for a show the evolution of the story.
Michael: We knew it had to be bigger than the way we wrote it. So, there was a lot of hope going into it. But we felt very talented, you know, I was with the buzz going around it at the time. Everyone wanted to participate, and they did agree from Montrose very much has that help to it.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. That’s a very tough tip, I mean, if you try to shoot something like that in LA. Everybody’s in town is going to show up, you know, the lunch bump and the over time bump and everything else.
Robert: Yeah, right, right.
Ashley: You come to town and everything else. Somebody gets just really excited that can be involved in a movie.
Robert: Yeah, they were like, fine.
Ashley: Go, ahead.
Robert: Oh, we were supposed to or how did we find it?
Ashely: Yeah, how did you find that particular town? Did you have someone on your production crew that was from there?
Robert: Well, the short story is, I was very active.
Michael: The short story is, Yes!
Robert: Yeah, yes. Someone was from the town. Yes, we knew, I played softball with a buddy of mine. We worked together here in LA. And they were just sitting around in like 2011-2012. Like, I asked them, does anybody know a barn? Does anybody know of a location that can take some heat?
Robert: And after that, his family the Runner Family ended up giving up 5000 acres. And we saw some photos of that, that somebody had on a cell phone. It was literally that wrote this place I had nothing to have seen in my entire life. Never seen or been to this part of Colorado ever. And I told Michael, “Hey, I think we found our location. And that was like maybe April or May of 2012. And then it went August, mine as well, me and Jason took a ride out to, you know, the spot and found who lived there. His mom and dad, and so we drove back out and spent the week. Checked out the place, set up our first location shoot.
Michael: And so we introduced ourselves.
Michael: To the town.
Robert: Yeah. We met the City Council and everything. And moved all around.
Robert: And that was it, and we said that we want to make this. And then we said it to ourselves. And then we launched it a year later. And they were really happy that we were able to bring the film back here.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. But let’s talk about, and I’m gonna circle back to the Kick-Starter Campaign once we get through some of the other stuff. I want to talk a bit about profit. I agree though, about the scripts with other writing partners. Because I know a lot of people who write with a writing partner. Maybe you could talk about sort of the process of writing the script, and what’s the real nuts and bolts of doing it? And how do you guys work together, and you guys in the same room, are you guys using “Skype?” Are you guys in a box in a separate location? Just kinda try and tell us just how this actual physical process of writing a script come together? Do you outline first?
Michael: Yeah, for the most part Robert and I are kinda outlined what we want to see first. And we build the character’s background. And bios, so we know things about the characters as Rob and I discuss, you know, those are the scenes. I think we kind outline for the most part we outline. We work the way we want to go.
Michael: And then we start talking about scenes individually. You know, we have our close words and our five stars and everything. But, you know, we talk about things individually. And that in order, you know, scenes that we have the kind of things that, you know, either one of us would enjoy writing. And you know, like, who has the theme, you know, there is always one of us that just like owns the scene.
Michael: So, that’s the sort of things are a really important process for us to start with. But, I mean, but, once we know where the story’s going? I think it’s a who ever jumps on the opening scene, we just start to rock and roll. Like it’s Rob, who jumps on some of the opening scene he’ll, write the scene when he’s done. And then give it off to me. And you know, we’ll discuss the scene. And, like, discuss is there any changes that need to be made? We’ll talk about where? You know, because we, even though we talk about ideas, we like to write, you know. Things pop into you head and things start to evolve, and expand. So and you know, we talk about, well where do we need to go with this next scene and I think, and it’s been a really good writing process for us. We’re always in the same room when we’re talking about outlining. But when we’re outlining, actually writing. We’re in our respected rooms, you know. Or we’ll be where ever we need to be to write by ourselves. We’ve done it for, we’re always talking about the film. And the script, you know. How thing, you know, how we can be pushing each character. But I think the process of the writing has been great for about twenty years.
Robert: Yeah for about 15 years. With a film like, “I Am Alone.” Having it sounds best like you know, is not something we actually write to determine arguments. Or also sound like to rank our, in fact it doesn’t feel like our typical genre film. And that’s what we wanted to make sure we watched not. I had researched and writing not only gifts of, we both watched, “The Fifth Camera Manifesto.” Which brought primal action to you. But there’s part of a European style of the character locked off in a dark in a room with something like, four minutes without, the cameras moving. I think you can have an edit, so that’s what started the choice we made that we wrote into the script. That’s when we’re in this contained bunker. I saw the film, it’s build, it’s going to feel very claustrophobic. That’s by design to feel very Juxesequa, as opposed to related on the mountain. We wanted it to feel contained and alone. And we wanted it to feel isolated. When we’re going on a mountain, they are both set that way on purpose. Just by realistically in the bunker, you know, you’re supposed to feel a little bit more in there. We had researched films like, “Slum Lord Millionaire.” And other films that serve you a device like most of the footage. And then we would go in sort of ride and watch, you know, Jacob standing on a mountain. And Nathan, played by Gunner Wright. Gunner running around the mountain on it. And trying to tip-toe to the things on the mountain. Was a very much challenge, which was like, Mike and I were like. Okay, we’ll be just for this scene and we’ll over ride. Another part of the process. Michael wrote that he, or I wrote a scene where I be in a little cubby. On that previous scene that rolls us into the next scene.
Ashley: How do you guys, if you ever disagreements, how do you ever kinda settle the disagreements? You just wait for consensus? Or how do you figure out when there is disagreement?
Michael: Yeah, I mean, we have disagreements all the time. But, I think it’s how to serve the story.
Robert: Yeah. And how does that serve the characters? When writing the script, so you know, we discuss maybe loudly, we discuss it with each other. What our opinion is out like, is so each person’s idea would evolve through the script. And it kinda might take a day or two for it to process through for either one of us. We have to see the big picture. Both of us just don’t want to write the theme and then kinda figure out what has to happen? We always talk it out. Where the scene will end and lead us to? So, yeah, we talk about, we, you know.
Michael: We just have to.
Robert: We don’t have to? It serves the story.
Michael: But sometimes.
Robert: But at the end of the day, we’re writing.
Michael: Yeah, sometimes I think we’re as a, some days.
Robert: Sometimes if we have an abstract idea. Welcome to our abstractness. Then in the story sometimes it might be simple as, you know, one of us has to find references. We, there’s a lot of film references in our films. Sometimes it’s simply, you know, you find it simply like, you know, giving it an example. And working through them simultaneously, point “A” gets us to point “B.” We don’t necessarily have to Co-direct to point “A” to point “B”. And that’s just our explaining our view point.
Michael: And point “B” is I think also we can come sometimes its. If one of us doesn’t totally get where the scene is going? We just kinda trust each other. That we’ll get that this is the scene, that I will get it, or Rob will get it. Or we’ll both eventually get it. But one of us has it so, we’re still on a good path. It’s when both of us don’t have it, is when we.
Robert: We both don’t write. Yeah, we talk about it here. You know.
Michael: But that rarely ever happens.
Ashley: How long, I mean you guys are working full time jobs in production, and those are usually very labor intensive, they take a lot of hours. So, how many, how long do take to write a feature film script. Not that “I’m Alone.”
Robert: I actually don’t recall? I think he wrote “I’m Alone” in about a month I think? The first half was about a month. And then we did, you know, numerous rewrites. And we laid it down initially. But I think like we had time to write it. Because I can write about twenty pages in a day, I mean, it might not be the greatest writing in eight pages? But like, the idea is to step out on it, and then I talk with Mike, and then Michael can get the interior going on that. And I think that case a little bit, you know, and he puts his sort of staff. And we can crank through it.
And then we’ll spend a few months after that, I think like tightening up the script. Then finding the heart of what is that we are looking for.
Ashley: Okay, okay. So, let’s talk now, once you’re kinda done with the script. Actually I want to go back to one thing? You were talking about your process, you know, of understanding sort of how marketable something is. And this is obviously a zombie movie. How did you know that zombies were marketable? I think the point where you interface with distributors, were you talking to, you know sales agents? How did you come to that conclusion, that zombies would be a marketable movie?
Robert: Well, I mean, honestly the greatest research tool in the world is “Google.” You’ve got to research everything, everything you want to do, you gotta research. You know, what the best outcome is going to be? And we love horror films. We are just taking a hard look at it this year. And, I mean, of I don’t think at first we thought to sell this. At first I think we were energized.
Michael: This is something we researched to make a difference. Yeah, yeah, to make a difference
Robert: and it turned out through the zombie genre, we found out, everyone knows how to kill zombies. So we kinda wanted to sense this onto the humanistic side. So, I think when we decided to make it more of a character story instead of more of a zombie movie initially. We thought out to reach a wider audience after. So, we thought, who could best portray Jacob, but also help the film, you know, get some traction and make some money. And that was our guide.
Michael: Yeah, and he’s our, and it was something that was very much in our minds the whole time. Because going into Kick Starter, you realize, what are your audiences very early on. And a lot of his fans helped put Kick Starter out. Almost immediately we saw an influx of donations to Kick Starter.
Robert: Yeah, but we failed our first Kick Starter, we didn’t want to have anybody friends with Michael and I.
Michael: Yeah, right, so on the second time it really kinda showed us that like, zombies is, everyone is in love with zombies. Those people gave, there are more audiences out there, there is Gunner’s audience, Hunter’s audience, and this is Will’s audience. And I think that we found, that was have been finding more and more of our fan base. But, It helps to know that this is something that, you know, will sell. You know, and that.
Ashley: Now, did you find that, did you find the town by going to the town? Introduce yourself up you spent a lot of the time, the people of the town also gave to your Kick Starter?
Robert: A yeah, the zombie-walk. I would say a lot of the people were very energized about it, to have. They were very excited to have a zombie film coming to town. I mean, the kids came out in droves. And all they wanted to do was to dress up and do things, and put on zombie make-up. And everyone did, Michael did, I myself we all, and when we got there and dressed up in zombie make-up and did this huge walk.
And like I said, they couldn’t have been more open. Like everything you would have wanted from a town to help make a film, they did for us. And some of the amazing glaze to the dance around me that helped us through out. All the way to the demon Lenard family. I mean, you know, and opened their doors and anything. And they were excited to be a part of it. It was really great to have them be a part of it.
Michael: It was a trippy, it was a little bit else. To check and interesting to.
Robert: No one knew who we were. They only knew us from the Chase, and his family who, were known in this town. They run an event, they had a truck out, we had a truck then. Where we got front and central, and we got to shoot the movie in August 2013. We had no 4-wheel drive vehicles from ATV’s. Michael and lived in a pop-up camper outside a house we ended up building for us. They took care of the crews there. The cast lived down the road from me. We had so many issue, we couldn’t have for seen? That you know, obviously takes to budget a film, comes with making film. To have the common resources. But, this town thought we were trying to do, and felt like these guys need help, and they did. And he had a tunicate from Rick and his brother and Bobby and all the others, from Melissa, and all these people came out to support us, and you know, we had to wade across the river and they created safety lines for us. Or we probably would have never tried, or been able to attempt it. So, the town really was a secret weapon for us.
Ashley: It sounds like though, just in terms of raising the money from Kick Starter. Sounds like your biggest tip was getting after it had a following. Because the follows of the actors who will be the ones that come in and open their wallets. Is that kind of get it?
Robert: Yeah, yeah. We, when we launched our Kick-Starter, our second one. We had like a three month plan. We had our friend Suzie get involved, and we knew. What we learned from the first Kick Starter, was A. You have to be shameless. You have to know that you have to go. So no matter what, there will always be the trackers and haters. And so we realized, okay, we can launch this zombie walk in the first week. That’s going to have an influx, bring your friends and family in. We were fortunate enough to you know, find Garrison and get him signed early on. And as soon as Gary and as Michael mentioned, we sold all the information. I don’t know if your audience is familiar with, “Hippie Lynn?” I wasn’t at the time? But like you would record a link and you could follow and track their throughout their where it came from, where did it come from? And watch a video, and we did realize that as soon as Gary comes off, everything’s clicked. It was different than that. We weren’t able to record till the end? But we were also like there, so, they’re actors, the people will follow them. And then they’re going to miss the raw data. That we actually write an article in “Entertainment Weekly.” When we launched our Kick Starter, we launched our Kick Starter at the same time as that Brass was launching his Kick Starter purpose was you were here. And you know, everybody was running against that and so with having Garrison, I sort of spearheaded you know, Adam, who had to move our story along. And you know, what our Kick Starter artist for ya. And so, when Garrison was done, it was just like, lights out, out right. Like, we knew, that’s what we needed back up. And give us birth.
Michael: And he got us over the hump, he really did. There is that third week hump there. There is, this help with Kick Starter.
Ashley: So, how much money did you all raise, ultimately raise on Kick Starter?
Michael: $27,000.00 we raised.
Robert: And Amazon and Kickstarter, they take a portion of that. You’re not going to get $27.000.00 or whatever? That’s all I know.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Okay. And so did you then get additional funding? Or did you get this entire movie made on $27,000.00?
Michael: A, the I would say the principle shooting was $20,000.00. But Rob and I paid for it about as much as we could the rest of the budget. So, I would say, $27,000.00 plus what ever Rob and I raised out of our own bank accounts.
Robert: And credit card.
Robert: Yeah, and credit card exactly. So, that all top it off.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, perfect, perfect. So, and you can tell us just briefly, how people can see this, see, “I Am Alone?” If it’s going to be out on “Video-On-Demand.” Where it’s going to be showing?
Robert: Oh, we’re actually speaking distribution? We have a few things that are potentially happening. But right now we’re on a festival run. We’re going to be trying and attend a bunch of “Comic-Cons.”
Michael: Yeah, and any fans out there listening go to our website at – www.holdontomovies.com, we have a Facebook page, yeah, Chet. We have our InstaGram is
“I Am Alone,” the movie. A mental time of an entire year to seven is another InstaGram. CityRob is Rob’s InstaGram,
Robert: I love my Twitter handle, and our movie Twitter, which all our social media is updated with it. Our regular art Twitter handle is – I’mAloneMovie.
Michael: But if you want to see it, our film? Find your local film programmer and tell them, “I want to see this film, “I Am Alone.” Send them on me, because you know, like I said, the film, the short time it’s been out in festivals? We’ve won five awards, Two for Garrett and one for Rob and one for. We’ve been nominated six times. We just got back from Vegas Comic-Con, which was fun to show the Phoenix Amazon and Paris. With that, the film. It’s making it’s rounds and it will be coming to a town near you. But,
Robert: Or a drive-in.
Michael: Or a drive-in yeah.
Ashley: Okay, okay, perfect, perfect. Well, as I said, I watched the movie yesterday and I enjoyed it, well done on that front. And good luck on the Zombie Convention. So, well done. I think you guys walked away with it. Do check back with me. And you know, when you’ve done your next project too, definitely let me know? And I will keep up with that.
Robert: Absolutely, absolutely, we’d love to, had a great time tonight.
Michael: Thanks for having me.
Ashley: Have fun guys.
Robert: Thank you.
Ashley: Thank you talk to ya later.
Ashley: A quick plug for the SYS Screenwriting Analysis Service. It’s a really economical way to get high quality professional evaluation on your screenplay. When you buy a “Three-Pack.” You get evaluations it’s a $67.00 value per script for feature films, and just $55.00 for
All the readers have professional experience reading for: Studios, production companies, contest, agencies. You can read a short bio on each reader on our website, and you can choose the one, who you think is the best fit for your script.
Turn-around-time is usually just a few days, but rarely more than a week.
The readers will evaluate your script on six key factors.
- Over all craft – (Which includes – Formatting, spelling, and grammar)
Every script will get a grade of – Pass, Fail, or Recommend. Which should help you roughly understand where your script might rank if you were to submit it to a production company or agency. We provide an analysis on feature films, and television scripts, we also do proofreading, without any analysis. We will also work on a treatment or outline and give you the same analysis on it. So, if you’re working to vet some of your projects. This is a great way to do it. We will also write you a log-line and synapsis for you. You can add this service to your analysis or simply buy a log-line and synapsis. Where we read the script and do it for you. You can add it as a stand alone product. Or as I said, you can add it to a script analysis.
As bonus, if your script gets a recommend from a reader, you get a free Email and Fax Blast to my list of industry contacts. This is the exact same service I use myself to promote my own scripts. And it’s the same service I sell on the website. It’s a great way to get your script directly into the hands of industry professionals who are looking for new material. So, if you want to get a professional evaluation of your screenplay at a very reasonable price, check out – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/consultants. Again that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/consultants.
In the next episode of “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast, I’m gonna be interviewing Thunder Lemonhood. Who wrote, “Sharkanado,” “Sharknado 2” and “Sharknado 3” and many other scripts. He’s really is a great, his story is a really great way of persistence and determination. He struggled for years trying to break in. And finally he found some success with “Sharknado.” We go through the whole process. Really from beginning, his early years as a struggling film maker. All the way up to now, some he’s really a cultural phenomenon of “Sharknado.” How it all came about And it really just all started, as I said, a lot of just grit and determination. He did an independent feature film. And that kinda got him a little bit further along. And got him in with a star production company that did “Sharknado.” Anyway, we go into it, he’s a really nice guy. But, real down to earth. And we go through his entire story. Whereas, keep an eye out for that episode next week.
So, to wrap things up, I just want to touch on a few things from today’s interview. I talk about this quite often on the Podcast. I think these guys are just great examples of two hard working, you know, guys who are out there making things happen for themselves. You know, they worked in the industry for years. You know, they got technical skills and then slowly over the years they’ve worked their way up. And now have a feature film that they have written and produced. You know, I don’t think it, that anyone’s going to listen to their story and think, “Man, those guys got so luck!” A lot of the story, a lot of the time these stories there is an element of luck to it? These guys are just plotting along, you know, they’re sharing their story. They’re sharing what they do. They had a Kick Starter Campaign that failed. It didn’t completely, you know, ruin them and their chances, they just kept going. They did another Kick Starter Campaign that they got some traction with. They got out there and shot their movie. So I just think this “Never Say Die” attitude is what it takes in this business. I think it’s a great lesson for all of us. As I face my own challenges with my Kick Starter Campaign. If it fails what am I going to do? Am I going to keep going on? Try another Kick Starter, or just go on without it? Again, you just gotta keep going. And I think these guys are great example of that, and that’s what’s inspiring to me. Listen to the interview and then talking with them, as I said, is inspiring. So, hopefully people out there will be inspired as well.
Anyway, that is the show, thank you for listening.