This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 118: Anna Axster Talks About Her New Film, A Country Called Home.
Ashley: Welcome to episode #118 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and Blogger over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing – Anna Axster, who wrote and directed a film called, “A Country Called Home.” Her and her team raised over $100,000.00 on Kick Starter. So we talk about that for a bit. We also talk about her career as a writer and director, and kinda how she got her start. So stay tuned for that.
Today, “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast is brought to you by “Script Fest” now in it’s 13th year. Script Fest Provides: Education, training, and pitching opportunities for writers from around the world. This year’s event will be held – May 20th – 22nd 2016, in Burbank California, visit – www.scriptfest.com for details. And use coupon code – SYS15, to save 15% at check out. Script Fest. Is the only non-profit devoted to helping screenwriters operating in Los Angeles, London and Canada, again check out – www.scriptfest.com
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A couple of quick notes, any websites or links that I mention in the Podcast can be found on the blog or in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode. In case you would rather read the show, or look up something later on. You can find all the Podcast show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast, and then just look for episode #118.
If you want my free guide, “How to Sell Your Screenplay in 5 Weeks?” You can 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 professional log-line and quarry letter? How to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for new material. 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 this week? So, once again, the only thing I’m doing right now is? I am working on a re-write of my crime action thriller script, “The Pinch.” I guess I’m just about done with it, the re-write. I should have it polished up this week. And then once I get this re-write done, then I really step-up to pre-production. The goal right now is, to change a lot, so I’ve got three months to kind of ramp up pre-production: April, May, June. And then we’ll be shooting in July.
I did hear from the producer, who hired me to write this spoof last fall. I did talk about that a lot in the Podcast. It’s a low budget spoof comedy. I was hired probably in October, and it took me, October, November. And December to write the script. And I just quickly now, I just Emailed them, hey, how’s it going? And they say, “Oh, we got a director. And we’re moving forward.” The idea now is to rewrite the script. They, the way it sounded now, the cut down on the budget. This is a low-budget film. So, they are just going through the script now and finding ways to really condense some stuff, characters, locations, get it where we can shoot it with the budget they have. So, hopefully it will turn out okay, we’ll see? It does sound like they are still on target, and does sound like they’re moving forward, which is good to hear.
I just heard back from my partner who I am working with on the sit-com world. I talked about that earlier in the year on the Podcast. I spent most of January writing that pilot episode for them. It’s not really a sit-com really, it’s more of just a half hour comedy. I wouldn’t actually call it a sit-com, although that’ probably not accurate. But it is a 30-minute pilot episode for a comedy. Probably I would say, more like a cable type of comedy. But maybe it could work on with it, we’ll have to see about that? But the bottom line is, worked on it in January, sent it off to him. Done a little bit of rewriting since then. And then we kind of agreed after the last re-write was, he was like, well, let me take it to one of those readers. He has a real reader he uses, someone like, he trusts. So, I sent him my re-written version. And then a few weeks ago he sent it to his reader. And his reader got back to us last week with notes. And then, the notes were all pretty mild, definitely some good suggestions. But, overjall it’s the reader kinda liked it. Which is, you know, it’s great to hear because I think that it means this partner on this project, he will have more faith in it. You know, sort of an impartial third party person says, “Oh, this seems pretty good.” As I said, the notes they gave me, this back work, were pretty mild. I’m gonna get those notes implemented this week. I mean, it’s probably just a couple of hours-worth of work. Pretty mild, really it was cutting some scenes and tweaking some dialog. Go by a bunch of typos there. They weren’t all that concerned, really. Nothing substantial like structural things, like big character things like that. So, hopefully I get that done this week. And hopefully start getting it out there and pitching it. This partner that I am working with he has some actually have some power vision. So, hopefully that will kind of be our first step. That we will probably try to take it to those folks. If that doesn’t work out then, we will probably fall back on my marketing ability. Which is really my Email and Fax Blast Service. I will probably start Blasting, I might have a few contacts everywhere. So, I will probably start taking it to some of them. But, at least a start. It’ll be more about the contacts, he has more experience I think? As a producer, and in television. So, that’s where we’re going to start.
Anyway, that’s what I’m working on. Now, so, let’s get into the main segment. So, today I’m interviewing Writer and Director Anna Axster, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Anne to the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Anne: Well, thanks for having me.
Ashley: Well, maybe to start out, you can tell us a little bit about your background? Kinda how you got into the business, and worked your way up to writing and directing a feature film? “A Land Called Home?”
Anne: Yeah. I first got interested in film when I was in my teens, I was about 14 or 15? I guess I started either of my sisters, my older sisters would write, I would be their director. And our mom told us either I would miss those very suttle moments that theater sometimes doesn’t capture. And then I was kind of intrigued with the fact that the camera can capture that. So, yeah, I guess from that moment on I knew that’s what I wanted to do, something with film. I went on to university, and then went to film school in London. And then kinda learned the craft there. And then started working in the industry, and I worked for a production companies. And worked for a writer a little bit. And eventually started writing my own, and then moved from London to L.A. And started working on short films and commercials, and movie studios, and eventually developed the credentials I’d need.
Ashley: Okay, okay. Maybe just for, very quickly, you could talk about some of those first jobs you had and in the business. And whatever they were? And maybe just give us a little hint of how you got some of those jobs? I have a lot of people Email me, just wondering, hey, how can you break into the industry? So, maybe just talk about maybe that very first sort of job. Even if it was a production assistant. Maybe just tell us how you got that, so people have some sense of how they do potentially break into it?
Anne: Yes. Sure. I think my first job was for a production company in London. And I guess, I had actually went for an interview. And when I got the job, and it was sort of others assistant jobs. And then I was able to see a lot. And sort of soak up a lot of this. Through the action process, so we were, you know, doing schedules, and shooting schedules. And I was able to be present along all the interviews. And chose the crew, and it was actually in the beginnings. And that was kind of lucky. And then at the end of film school, when I got that job.
Ashley: Let’s talk about some of your short films. And maybe you could just kinda speak to how they prepared you for writing and directing a feature film?
Anne: Sure, yeah. I mean, I did a bunch of short films in film school, and then after film school. And obviously they prepare you in a way, because it’s a, you know, in a small version of shooting a full length feature. It’s really different in a way? In one day, where maybe you have two days or a week to shoot. So, it’s stilted so much smaller. But at the same time it’s good practice. And eventually, I, If I wasn’t going to do anymore short films? Because you know, I felt they were really, show at festivals here and there, there really is a limit that you can do with them, the format. And that’s when I started focusing mainly on writing a future script that I tried to get off the ground.
Ashley: Okay. And so, let’s dig into, “A Country Called Home” now. And maybe to start out you can give us a quick log-line or pitch about the film?
Anne: Why? It’s a story about a free young woman who lives in L.A. and is trying to just exit from the world around her a little bit. In a relationship that isn’t very caring. And doesn’t have a ton of friends. Then has a hard time making relationships in her life. And then she hears a strange thought, her father has passed away. And travels to a very small town in Texas in order to kind of heal from the funeral. And with the logistics of somebody dying. And at first she’s kind of apprehensive and wants to move to this place again. She’s in somewhat of a culture shock. And then eventually she meets a lot of different characters, the town, the stepmother she didn’t know. And cousins she didn’t know, and she makes a good friend there. And yeah, she just meets a bunch of different people. And kinda slowly warms up to the place and the process. Kinda finds a way to make people consider her past. And this can, that she is disconnected here.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, where did this idea come from?
Anne: A, it came from a lot of different things. I traveled extensively in the U.S. because my husband is a musician. And we were on tour for a long time. So I just got to see so many different places in this country that you wouldn’t normally see if you were a tourist, I guess? I guess it was kind of inspired by some of it, some of that traveling. And seeing so many different kind of cultural landscapes, that only exist in this one country. And so, the main character’s transitions from the big city to a very small town. Kind of inspired by that, and then I just saw around me. A lot of our generation of our people were growing up at a different point than I think they may be stopped. When they were teenagers like people were really growing up when they were more in their late 20’s. Then in their late teens, or early 20’s. And so that kind of featured a kind of. Where somebody in technically kind of being an adult. Where they have a lot of grow up. So that was kind of inspiring. And there is a lot of difference in a cast of characters I know. In essence, I lost my father, I guess eight years ago. So, losing your parents sometimes that inspired this story. And yeah, it’s just a lot of different things that kind of came together.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, let’s just for a minute talk about your writing process? Maybe you can start out by just telling us how this, in terms of writing a screenplay like this. How much time do you spend preparing to write? In other words, do you outline, verses actually opening up something like final draft and actually starting to type your script?
Anne: Sure. I guess as an idea brewing, I didn’t have a vision in mind yet. I didn’t have a specific product or anything like that. But I felt there were something that wanted to come out. I actually went up to Lake Tahoe in California. And locked myself in a cabin for five days, I think it was? Where there was no internet, no phone or anything, no distractions. And for the first few days I didn’t write anything. In I think I got worried at some point. And I thought, Oh my god, this doesn’t come out at all? Nothing, ever gets to the tape. And then on day four and five, I just said, it all came out and I just wrote, maybe an outline and a synapsis for this story. And then I went back home with this. Then I knew I wanted to collaborate with somebody on the actual screenplay. And so I got in touch with this writer out of New York, his name is Jim Beggerly. And asked him if he would like to read the synapsis and could collaborate on this? And he did, and he really liked it, and then he basically said, “We’ll see” so we sent messages back and forth. And then Jim had this huge part in writing a lot of the dialog and fleshing out the scenes. And we continue to send things back and forth. I live in L.A., he’s in New York. And when we finally felt like we had a first draft. Which was mainly like, he writes very fast. And so, I wanted to say it was like two months later? Maybe three months? I flew to New York and stayed for three days. And just went through the scripts with like a fine toothed comb. Then I felt we had a good draft. And I was ready to show people. So,
Ashley: Okay. How do you, how did you meet Jim? You said you reached out to him. Was this someone you already knew prior to this, or just someone you cold called?
Anne: A, yeah. I knew of him, he had contacted a very dear friend of mine, Daniel, who was a director out here in L.A. I guess he had seen one of Daniel’s movies, and wanted to see if he was interested in scripts. Gemini had some scripts he had wanted to show people. And so, he, Daniel told me about him because he had read one of his scripts. And that’s kind of how I knew about him. And I liked his writing, and the fact that he’s really talented. And so I called him up and took it front there.
Ashley: Now how was this literally your first feature film script that you had written? You had written shorts that you had written and directed prior to this?
Anne: I had written one on feature film scripts before. And that landed in my drawer, and stayed in my drawer. I don’t think I really showed it to anyone. It was more of an exercise for myself, to write in feature length form than in short form.
Ashley: Okay, so let’s kind of move through the process and how your done with a script. Do you have this first draft that you like. What did you start to do with it, that first draft? Did you send it to some producer contacts? What were some of your first steps when you have that draft you liked?
Anne: I gave it to some friends to read. I didn’t talk about the idea for this film or this script. Or if there was any chance for anybody, I had this really good first draft. Because I felt it was going to, I don’t know? I felt like I wanted to try and finish this thought before getting others input and ideas and all that kinda stuff. And so, once I had that first draft. I gave it to my husband to read, and friends. And I had a friend who’s an agent out here, and he read it, and liked it. And he gave it to a couple of people. And, one of the first people I gave it to was Mick Johndise, he’s a producer who was out of Austin at the time, and now here in L.A. He produced Terrance Mally’s last movie. And he was over at the house for dinner. Because he had met him six months prior to this. And I just gave him the script and said, “Read this if you feel like reading it?” And he read it, and it was like, I asked, and he said he loved it. If you want to do this? And so, that would be my first moment. I felt like, Oh wow, this is amazing. He kinda was gonna come on board and do this with us.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Maybe you can touch on, you mentioned an agent you gave it to, was one of the first people. Maybe you can just tell us how you met and got that agent? You know, got to know him? I always get people who, Ashley, how do I get in touch with agents in this industry?
Anne: Sure. I guess I got to know him through my husband, who really works with my husband. Who, they met shortly before my husband and I met. So, he had known him for a really long time, and that’s how I met him.
Ashley: And how about Nick, you mentioned you met him six months prior? How long before you met him?
Anne: Yeah. This is also through that same agent friend, because they set up a meeting for us. Because Nick and his writing partner is in Austin. And we had to go, so that’s how we met out there. And we just kinda stayed in touch. There wasn’t any kind of complete business, or anything we ever talked about. And so, we just kinda kept in touch casually. And then when he was out here we kinda invited him over for dinner. And that’s when I gave him the script. It was probably a little bit mental? And the contacts that might happen, I even envision my husband. So, he has some contacts in the industry.
Ashley: Yeah. So, I’m going to dig into your Kick Starter Campaign, in a minute. But, one of the things you mentioned on the Kick Starter Campaign. Is that you already had some investors lined up, before you ever got to the Kick Start Campaign. And I’m just wondering if you could just give us a little bit of just tips on how you can actually get involved in investors for a kind of film like this? Then, you know, dig into the Kick Starter Campaign, okay?
Anne: So, we had, no, we just planned it. And it took a while, it took a lot of effort. Because it was really important for us to get a lot of people, it seems to me to be opened to all our backers. And them, and so we just kinda came up with a game plan for what we fix. What we kind of intended to do, with the pledge and we were, this really kinda go with what finding fresh people with some values. And then, yeah, I don’t know, we just kinda went about it like, coming up with different kinds of categories that people could pledge for. And then we did a little video. And like I said, my husband is a musician and has a fan following. He really had enough to concoct a little video and see part of this whole thing in a way. And so we used this to reach people. And we had a friend who was conferences into help us kind of get a little bit of tasks. And do that, and people were into the Kick Starter Campaign. And so this is kinda like, getting all our friends together, and trying to get as many people to back as much as possible as the word gets out.
Ashley: Yeah, so you have an original goal of $75,000.00, which you far exceeded. So, congratulations on that. How do you come up with that initial goal of $75,000.00? I know, I’m just curious, I mean, did you have something to compare it to? Was it just, this is what you would need to make the movie? What did you think that, like I said, if you had something to compare it to, you would know that was a realistic goal? What or where is that initial $75,000.00 goal come from?
Anne: It wasn’t hard to come up with the right number. And we kind of, I don’t know? It kinda looks like a lot of other things paid. And try and figure out what their reach was? And then need was and what voice, and what kind of come up with a number? And that was the number we got set on. And we re-set after we raised quickly and that, and surpassed it. And that was awesome! And we were, and it was really important to have for example to have the campaign. I think it was, I can’t remember, three weeks or four weeks? But it was important for us as not have it be too long? Because that was something that we heard from a lot of people. That if you have it too long, it kind of loses steam. And so we just kind of tried to get as much information, and read as much as about the campaign as possible. To that was the best way to choose, what it would be. And the information is out there, like there are tons of articles. And I think the starter is research in and of itself, because try to analyze other people’s campaigns helped us a lot to figure out what we were doing.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, on your campaign, I notice you have your little blue badge that says, “This project we love” you got that backing from Kick Starter. I’m curious if you could give us a little bit of a hint about how you go about getting that? Sort of getting in with the Kick Starter, so you can get that badge on. Because it seems like that helps you kinda get listed on your search results as well.
Anne: I’m sorry could you repeat that one more time?
Ashley: Sure, sure. On your campaign, you have the little blue badge that says, “Project we love” and it’s a badge that Kick Starter, you know, points to certain projects that they like. So maybe you could just kinda tell us how you went about getting that approval from Kick Starter?
Anne: What, I mean, we just, early on when we started kinda getting our campaign together. We contacted Kick Starter at their Email. And this kind of asked them a couple of questions, here and there. And eventually asked, if they would consider us eligible for that? They did luckily. So I think it was just kinda trying to be an active with that one. Trying to get in touch with them, and kind of be on their radar.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And then on your ending credits, there’s a credit for something like Kick Starter Productions. Was that in just a “Thank you” to them?
Anne: It was unrelated. There is a production company that was part of the film. It’s called, “Kick Start Productions.”
Ashley: Okay, okay.
Anne: That has nothing to do with the campaign thing.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And do you think, looking at how much money you got. And I know with $112,000.00, it’s going to be hard to know for sure? But do you feel that was a lot of people who just found your project on Kick Starter? Verses people who knew you were sort of in your cypher of influence already?
Anne: I did feel there were quite a lot of other people that we, that heard about the film through Kick Starter. And we were called by a bunch of people, you know, like, or asked to pledge for strategy movies or projects. So, I feel like once you’re on there, there’s a kind of community of throughout Kick Starter that can kinda help each other out. That I think we got a lot that way. And yeah, I think the title, the power of E-Commerce that we.
Ashley: So let’s move on. So, now you’ve got the financing. You’ve got your film finished. What was sort of the next steps to finding distribution? I think I read, you guys premiered at the L.A. Film Festival. Maybe you could talk a little bit about that, but just, what were some of your first steps? Once you have the film finished?
Anne: A, yeah, so when we had it finished, we applied to it, and got accepted to the L.A. Film Festival, which was awesome. Which was where we premiered and we invited a bunch of press out to that screening. And had a full house that first night. The premier which was weekly, then and from there? Yeah, we started talking to different distributors, we had TAA, the agencies. Kind of they were behind us, for presenting to the distributors. And then eventually, you know, there was a, some offers that were, that we didn’t take from offers that we wish we would have gotten. It was kind of a mixed bag. Like, some people didn’t want to come on board. Some people liked us, but we felt like we should wait till we get something better. And then eventually, Alkami came on board, and wanted to distribute and asked us to do in collaboration with, which was amazing. And yeah, it just kind of came from that. So, definitely need further film festivals to help I guess. And then, just having somebody contact all of those different distributors here and try and keep track of what we can and can’t achieve. What we can a little bit.
Ashley: Yeah. How many film festivals do you think you ended up going to?
Anne: We actually we only went to the L.A. Film Festival because, we had offers for a couple a more others that we didn’t want to premier at. Because once you premier, once you have your world premier somewhere? You will not necessarily get into any of the bigger ones. Because they want premier status. And so, we went some other ones that we turned down just because we felt we wanted to premier at a slightly bigger show. And that ended up being the L.A. Film Festival. And then after that, we weren’t getting distribution in that agency. Not really touring the circuit, for a whole bunch a more.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, sure. So, how can people see, “A Country Called Home?” Do you know the release schedule?
Anne: Why, it was theatrically released here in L.A. And it was until last week? Now, it’s available on DVD in stores everywhere. It’s on ITunes, and it’s on Amazon, And I think it’s also on a lot of the cable networks ON Demand. And then the DVD is out, and also available on Amazon online, and then Walmart, and then some smaller indie chains. So,
Ashley: Perfect, perfect. And what’s the best way people can keep up with you? If you’re on Twitter, you can mention your Twitter handle? If you’re on Facebook, mention your Facebook page. Really whatever you feel comfortable sharing with, in case anyone wants to follow along with what you’re doing in your career.
Anne: I think the best way possible, is probably my website, I think? It’s www.anneashley.com and then the film is on Facebook and on Twitter. And all those things that are news about, “A Country Called Home.” It’s going to be on those and then the handle is – ABCHCD.
Ashley: Okay, okay, great, perfect, perfect. I will wrap of all that stuff and I will put it in the show notes so that people can just click over to that. Well, Anne I really appreciate you coming on and talking about the film. I watched it last night, I really enjoyed it. So, a very well done. And congratulations on your success so far.
Anne: Thank you so much, and thanks for having me.
Ashley: Thank you talk to ya later.
Anne: Okay, bye.
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And as a bonus, if you script gets a recommend from a reader, you get a free Email and Fax Blast to my list of industry contacts. The is the exact same blast service I use myself to promote my own scripts. And it’s the same service I sell on = www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. It’s a way to get your script into the hands of producers looking for new material. So, if you want a professional evaluation of your screenplay, at a very reasonable price, check out – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/consultants.
So, in the next episode of the Podcast, we are going to be interviewing John Hodge, who wrote, “Train Spotting” and “Beach.” He also wrote a film called, “The Program.” Which chronicles the rise of Neil Armstrong. We dig into that film, and we also talk about his early career and how he broke into the business. He’s got some great tips about how he just kind of broke in and worked his way up. So keep an eye out for that episode next week.
To wrap things up, I just want to touch on a few things from today’s interview with Anne. I recently did my own
Kick Starter Campaign. If you’re listening to this Podcast, you’re probably painfully aware of that. Because I talked about it quite a bit. So I found that part of what she did, very, very interesting. I really was inspired by that. She was able to pipe into an existing community, which was the fans of her husband, who is a musician, Ryan Bingham. And they wound up raising over $100,000.00. This is a sizable chunk of money obviously. It certainly is enough to shoot an independent film. You know, I would highly encourage you to check out this film. You can kind of see what can be done for $100,000.00. It’s a great, you know, a great example of that. I mention this, my own Kick Starter Campaign round-up in the Podcast episode. Having a community, or being able to pipe into one is absolutely essential for succeeding on Kick Starter. And this is pretty much, you know, not rocket science. Pretty much everything you read about running a successful Kick Starter Campaign. Is going to say, just as much, if you follow and rely on friends and family you better set a very, very modest goal. So, the questions is, how can you pipe into a community of passionate fans, passionate people? People that are passionate about particular topics to inject something?
One thing, and I’m just going to rattle off a couple of ideas. One idea that I noticed when I was doing my own Kick Starter Campaign, was? There was a lot of documentaries, or Non-Fiction films, that sort of, you know, they were tailored around in an already existing community. So, let’s talk about a specific example, one of them was a film about “He Man and Masters of the Universe.” So, in case you don’t know what that is, that is a toy in a cartoon from the 1980’s, very, very popular toy. I remember that toys, I think I was maybe I was a little old for the toys. But they were big sort of men, I’d say mid- to late ‘80’s. And there was a cartoon and stuff that went with it. So, this is a documentary just kind of chronicling the “Masters of the Universe” how it was made, sort of a popularity. Just kind of like a, you know, a pop culture documentary on this, you know, pop culture icon, “He Man Masters of the Universe.” So the film is a documentary. The folks make being a documentary, as far as I could tell? They are not officially in any way tied to this toy or cartoon. But they haven’t done any licensing or anything like that? They are just making a documentary about “He Man and Masters of the Universe.” And this is really, really, smart because there is already a community of people that are, you know, passionate about that toy. There are lots of people who had these toys as a kid. And would probably love to see a movie about it? People will remember these toys. And the great thing about them, those people? Is that they are probably in their 30’s and 40’s. And so they have jobs and are a little bit of disposable money. So, they are precisely the demographic of people who can potential Kick in a little bit of money. And again, this was a part of these people’s childhood. So, if you really were, and played with these toys, and loved these toys? This would be something of interesting to you. So, if you can get word out to those people and probably are people who collect these things and conventions. And there’s probably ways that you could figure out to actually market this Kick-Starter Campaign too. And these people didn’t come into it. You can actually check out their website. And they seem to have made a sort of business model out of that. They’re not like, super passionate about, “Masters of the Universe” collections. They’ve done a bunch of documentaries. They have a bunch of them in different stages of development. Early stages on some of them. But they’ve got a bunch of documentaries about a very specific niche of toys like it. So they are very specific sort of pop culture icon, like this. So, they people making this are sure that they knew about the toys. But they are not necessarily the actual fans who are going to appreciate this. But they understand that there is a community of these people who are under served. There are a community of people who are passionate about “He Man” and would probably pay $20. $30. $50.00 to see a documentary about their beloved toy made. So, that’s super smart.
Another example, in episode 75 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I talked to a producer named Mike Myron Tearan Chubellum. I completely butchered his name, so I apologize for that. But, you can go back and look this up, it’s episode #75, I’ll link to it in the show notes. One of the things, and it’s a very smooth part of the overall interview I did with him. But I remember that, as I was preparing this Podcast episode, I remembered back to that. One of the things that he did was? He did a short film, it was not a documentary, it was a fiction film of fictionalized film. Inside the world of the demolition derbies. And I remember him sort of making these comments. Though again, go back and listen to episode #75. What he did was, he contacted sort of the leaders in this niche. And there’s probably people in every niche that are sort of the leaders and the, you know, a lot of Twitter fans, a lot of Facebook fans. Other website or blog on the specific niche. These are not celebrities, but these are not like super famous people. They are just people who are passionate about a particular hobby, or niche, or sport or something? And they’ve created now a website. And now maybe they’ve run some of the logistics, I don’t know exactly how demolition derbies work? But, maybe there’s some people that run on the race tracks, or demolition drivers. And these people are probably within their own community they are probably pretty famous. So, what Myron did was, contacted those people, sort of befriended those people. And then he did a Kick-Starter Campaign, to get this demolition derby movie made. And again, Myron didn’t come into the project having a community of demolition derby people. But he thought that through beforehand. And he, before he produced his movie, he realized he could pipe into that. So, I think that’s again, a really smart thing to do. You may not have a built in audience? You may not have somebody that you can rely on to bring that community. That doesn’t mean you can’t go out there and piggy-back on what other people have done. Again, this isn’t just a one way, you’re not just going to use them and abuse them. You have to do it in an intelligent way, you have to listen to them, perhaps interview them to get their insight. You do what would make a good demolition movie. And they get invested in this project. And all of a sudden they are more than happy to help you get what you want. And they have access to all these people you are interested in, in demolition derby. And then they can promote your Kick Starter Campaign for you.
And again, that’s just a small way to kinda get out there, and get in there. It’s really a, it’s really a matter of thinking through your project before you start writing. And understand how you’re going to get this movie made. Again, this is not going to work for all movies. I know some people want to write those big tent pole, big studio action movies or whatever; a summer block-buster movie. You know, this is not a model for that. But this is a great model for perhaps a short films, or perhaps an independent film. As I said, centered around a specific niche. I also again, want to really emphasize, I often sort of get negative Emails from people, you know, something to the effect, well, I’m not married to a famous musician as are some people. Or, you know, in my case, well, I don’t have a community like you have at “Selling Your Screenplay.com.” I get these sorts of Emails, where people kinda make up excuses why this isn’t going to work for them. You know, you have to be creative. And you have to use what’s available to you. In the entrepreneurial world, there is this thing called, “Unfair advantage.” And when you start being a new business, you try and think about specific things that you have as a skill, or you have available to you, that most other people don’t have. And this gives you a leg up on your competition. And that is your “Unfair advantage.” It gives you something special that you could bake into your business, your start-up, your website, your IPhone app., it gives you something that is a little bit of twist, a little bit unique, a little bit of freshness. It just gives you something that is, and they call it, “Unfair advantage.” Something that most other people are simply not going to have. And that can help you build your business. And I think it’s the same thing when, maybe even taking a step back, you’re going to produce a movie. It is a business when you think of it that way or not. So, trying to think of what your unfair advantage is in this case? She had a husband who is a musician and had a, you know, a passionate following of people, so she used that. In my own case, with my own Kick Starter Campaign, you know, I knew I had an audience of the screenwriters. So, I used that to try and promote my own Kick Starter Campaign. So, you just have to be creative, and think about what you have, and what you have access to, what skills you have. Again, you got to get creative here. But I think I can pretty much guarantee that every single
one-person listening to this Podcast if you really think about your situation and get creative. You’ll be able to come up with something that gives you that unfair advantage. There is something unique about your situation, where you live, your experiences, who you know, there’s something in that, you know, that little bit meaning. Something in your life that if you leverage it properly? It can give you a little bit of an unfair advantage, and that can be enough to get your Kick Starter Campaign off the ground, get your movie made. Maybe you have a specific hobby, or you have a specific hobby as a kid, where you really know that niche, you know, you understand that hobby. So, you’ll be able to tie that into your movie, make a movie, build a movie around that. And that can help you, again, contact the leaders of the, of that niche, and potentially build that into a relationship. Where they can help you build and grow your Kick Starter Campaign. Maybe the town or the city that you live in has something unique about it? Again really think of about this? Maybe there is something unique about your town or city that you can highlight in a movie? And that can get you people in the town excited about your movie. And then everybody in your town, even if you live in a small town of only a few thousand people? Let’s say you live in a town of ten thousand people, you know, if 10% of those people give $20.00, you got enough money to make a feature film. Or at least a really good short film. So, most of these small towns, too, it’s probably not that hard to contact them. The Mayor, or to contact the local newspaper, or the local radio stations, actually get some free press for your Kick Starter Campaign. Again, if you invest and involve people in these sorts of things, you know, it’s about that unique thing about your town. People will take great pride in about that and they’ll think of it as their project, and they will come on board for that. Again, I’m just spit balling ideas, you gotta get really creative, you gotta think about what’s going to be happening. Let’s see, again, I, again, I want to go back to the beginning of the demolition derby niche. There’s a million, but they, the interesting thing about the demolition derby niche. And again, this is just another idea if you’re out there and wondering what can I try and do? Something like the demolition derby niche. It’s, the people who are into it, look are very, very passionate about it. They really love it, they it is a part of their life. It’s not something that is, you know, well served, you know, like football. No, it’s like Oliver Stone, it’s like people big movie people aren’t making movies about NFL. So, you’re not going to be able to depending on how passionate you are about the NFL? You’re probably not, there are a gazillion NFL fans out there. But, it’s such a broad niche, you’re not going to be able to really pipe in with, really, again, unfair advantage. It’s perhaps if you know an NFL player, or if you know a coach, or you know somebody that’s in the NFL? Perhaps you could use that as your unfair advantage? But just as an NFL fan, I don’t think, I think that’s such a broad niche. She would not be able to pipe into much of anything, because it’s just so broad. Whereas the demolition derby is so under served, those people, if you were to go to the demolition derby niche and say, I am making a movie about demolition derby’s, they are going to get jazzed by that. Because there’s no one else doing it, and there’s probably a million niches out there, little niches out there that have a really small but passionate group. And that’s what you want, you don’t a big broad group, a big broad niche like the NFL, or even going down a couple of notches from them. You want that way, way, niche down as far as you can. Because that’s where you’re going to find passionate people who are really under served, really not getting, you know, big Hollywood actors, directors and film makers. They are not coming to them and saying, “I want to make a movie about your, you know, hobby.” So, you’re not going to have that competition, you’re not going to have that thing, those people are going to when they hear about it. Someone making a movie, they are going to be very, very apt to sign on, help you, help publicize it. Ultimately even kick in some money. So, again, maybe you start out by just trying to raise a few thousand dollars for a short film, to test the waters. But really think this thing through. You gotta start somewhere, I talk about shorts all the time, a lot on this Podcast. So, maybe that’s a good place to start. But, again, if you think you have that unfair advantage, where you can raise, you know, $10, $20, $30, $40, or $50, or more thousand dollars? Perhaps you can do a feature film? You know, you gotta be, this is sort of the dichotomy? You gotta be disciplined and deliberate on the one hand. And what I mean by that is, you got to think through your script idea. You got to think through the premise. You got to think through the entire project, hopefully before you even write it. That way when you’re coming up with your ideas, you’re trying to decide what you’re going to write next? You have like a full concise market plan of how you’re actually going to go about getting this movie made? Or at least getting the scripts sold? So, you’ve got to be disciplined and deliberate. And not just writing an idea because you think it’s cool. You got to think it through, plan it out. How are you actually going to market the script? So, on the one hand, you got to be disciplined and deliberate. But then on the other hand you also got to be super creative, and think outside the box. And that’s kinda the thing. You know, you’ve got to be creative to come up with good ideas. Creative ways of selling this. Obviously you’ve got to be creative and disciplined and deliberate in the right writing of the script. and making sure it’s structured and all that stuff. And then you’ll also have to be creative in the scene level above all that stuff. But we’re just talking about the marketing part here. You got to be super creative, again, think outside the box. Come up with some really clever ideas. Things that I haven’t even talked about or thought about, those are going to be your best gifts. Because you’re not going to have to have other people sort of compete for that same space. So, anyways, I hope this is helpful? You know, again, I just really, really am a firm believer, and hopefully you know, again. I’m out there trying to shoot my own low-budget feature film. So, hopefully I’m an example of that. As not just what I am actually saying, but what I am trying to do what I say as well. And I really hope that people see this too. And I am just a person like you or I and I know, she saw an opportunity and she went out there. And she just made it happen for herself. You know, nobody called her up and said, “Hey, I’m going to raise the money for you. I’m going to shoot your script. I love your script. I’m gonna buy your script. And I’m gonna go make your movie.” You know, ultimately, she had to do it herself. She saw her way and what her circumstances were, and she used what she had to go out and make this movie. And that’s hopefully inspiring, and you know, hopefully we can all take a lesson from that. Just gotta get out there and make things happen.
Anyway, that’s the show, thank you for listening.