This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 126: Screenwriter And Podcaster Dave Bullis Talks About His Film Career Outside Of Hollywood.
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Ashley: Hello and welcome to episode #126 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and Blogger over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing screenwriter Dave Bullis. Dave is a screenwriter who lives outside of Philadelphia. He also runs his own Podcast called, “The Dave Bullis Podcast.” He’s done a great job networking and meeting film makers in his local area outside of Philadelphia. And we really dive into some of the things that he’s done to achieve this so stay tuned for that.
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I just want to mention a free webinar that I am doing on Wednesday – June 8th at 10:00a.m.pst. it’s called, “How to Effectively Market Your Screenplay and Sell it?” I’m going to go through all of the various online channels available to screenwriters. And give you my unfiltered opinion of them. I get questions all the time like, does the “Black List” work? Does “Ink Tip” work? Which screenwriting contest should I enter? I’ve tried pretty much every marketing channel available to screenwriters. And I’m going to share my experiences with them. Again, this webinar is completely free. Don’t worry if you can make the live event. I will be recording the event, if you sign-up I will send you a link after the event has taken place. I will send you a link so you can listen to it later on and in your convenience. To sign-up just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/freewebinar, again that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/freewebinar. And then just look for or just fill in the form for with your name and Email address. And you will immediately get information on how exactly to get and attend the webinar. Also, if you are already on my Email list, you do not need to register. And you when you are on my Email list, I will be sending out the information to that, so that they may attend the webinar. And again, if you cannot attend the live event, no problem. As soon as the live event takes place, I’m going to record it. And I will send out the link to all the people who have signed up.
A quick few words about what I’m working on this week? Again, this is sounding a bit like a broken record, week after week still in pre-production with my crime action thriller script,
“The Pinch.” Slowly ramping things up, I did casting a couple of weeks ago for the two main leads. I’m now doing call-backs tomorrow. On those we basically narrowed it down to a handful of actors we really liked from the first audition. And now we’re going to bring in some actors and bring them back and have them read. And you know, we might do a little couple of differences. Do some of the same scenes that we are hopefully going to make our decision through this first round.
And once I get those two leads cast, I’ll be able to start to cast the others. And model the other roles around that. I would say, 60%-70% of this movie is just these two guys in one house. So, I really got to make sure that those leads work well. That they are good actors and that they work well for specific scenes that I’ve written. My first AD has broken the script down and sent me some preliminary schedules. I will be meeting with him tomorrow. This is a big step, I mean, just getting the schedule locked in. You know what day we will be shooting what? Again, this will help with casting, it’ll help with crew figuring out? And I on occasions as well. Just figuring out what days as well, and what needs what? This is a very fluid process, obviously my AD knows this. And so, we will be adjusting. Of course there will be, cast and they might not want to, or be able to work on a specific day? So, we will kind of have to
re-adjust the range based on that? But it’s good to just get that frame or schedule up. Just kinda see how many days do we need each location? And then what days, how many days do we need each actor? That is really what I say is the main thing. So, going to meeting him tomorrow, he just sent me those on Friday. I looked at them and them we’re going to be going over those
tomorrow and making any additional tweaks that need to be made.
The other thing I’m working on and it’s a still trying to get the insurance quotes. There is a state wide agency which supposedly has the cheapest Workers Comp. Insurance available. But dealing with them is a little bit slow. I will hopefully get a quote back from them this week. We’ll see how that goes? But the main thing I’m trying to do is? I have a, you know, and this is for all, you know, micro-budget feature films here. You got to kind of be as creative as possible. There is a company in Burbank that actually does lights. They have a couple of locations, in sets, in their building. They have a couple of sets, set-up that we can use. They also, as I said, rent grip lighting and grip equipment. And they will also do co-production with your production company. And then you can use their insurance. Which they obviously have, you know, good insurance package set-up. So, I’m trying to get these quotes. And then once I have these quotes I can back them and kind of make them an offer. And like I said, that will help me in a variety of ways with grip and lighting packages. And will also help me with the locations because they actually had probably two days-worth of shooting at locations, you know, they have an office, they have a conference room, and they have a cubical set-up. And they have a back parking lot that would work well for us, for this production. So hopefully I can cut a deal with them? If not, I have a couple of back-ups locations. I have a friend who has an office that we can probably use. It’s just a little bit out of town, it’s a little bit on the border of it, at Ventura County and L.A. County. So, it’s a little bit out of town, but can probably get it for free. So, would rather have the place in Burbank. But if I can’t get that settled, I’ll just have to probably go a little bit outside of the county. But, anyways, just trying to get the locations locked. Still looking for the house. I have rewritten the script a little bit to use a friend has a townhouse that’s close by. And they will let us shoot for free. So, I rewrote some of the apartments use. There’s a scene were the main character lives in an apartment. And the bad guy shows up there. So I really wrote that to accommodate that location. And have access for, and then still looking for the house, with the dilapidated house, the main location. And once I get that locked, I might kind of have to wait till closer to production to go out and make some offers to people that have houses vacant. And houses they can’t rent or sell. And I don’t think those people necessarily want to cut a deal this early. When they might be able to rent or sell the house before July 9th. When I’m actually going to be shooting. So, I’m not in too bad a shape on that.
And I have a couple of back-ups there either. My own house, I can potentially shoot if worse comes to worse and we might have to use my house. And I don’t really want to do that. Yeah, my wife won’t let me shoot in our own house. But, if worse comes to worse I can or probably could shoot at my house. Film under the gun to get that look. But anyways, same sort of stuff I have been talking about week after week. Just casting, getting the crew. I’m going to get to meet the crew, I’ve been Emailing with a bunch of crew people, and I’m probably going to travel next week. I’m going to try and meet the crew and that should pretty much round out my entire crew. Hopefully, as I said, have some meetings next week. And get all the crew kind of set-up and locked in. And then the casting will be an on-going process. I wouldn’t be surprised if I am casting right up until the last minute. It’s not that hard to find out our actors. But since this is such a low budget movie production. There is not a lot of pay for the actors. So, there will be people that we can cast that will end up dropping out because they get a paid job. Or they have to go visit someone, or something. They’ll see a lot of that. So, casting will probably be fairly fluid. But I want to get these two main leads locked up. Because that’s, we need those two guys almost every day. Anyway, I think it’s kinda the same update as last week, casting, crew, and up, and fining locations. But I do think things are slowly moving along. And I think I’m in decent shape for the July 9th start date.
So, now let’s get into the main segment. Today, I’m interviewing screenplay writer, and Podcast producer – Dave Bullis, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Dave to the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast” I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Dave: Oh, thank you very much for having me. I really appreciate being on the show.
Ashley: So, to start out with, maybe you could tell us a little bit about your background? Maybe just how you got interested in film and started actually working in the industry?
Dave: A sure. I actually started for “real,” in about 2008. You know, I was kinda pulling stagnant in college. And growing-up, I always had a, this sort of you know, this love affair with you know, I’d always you know, hang-out with friends who were in high school. We watched tons of movies. Yeah, I’m sure you remember when, “Hollywood Video,” “Blockbuster Video” was opened and they would have deals, you know. We’d always get those deals and just sort of cram movies, you know what I mean? We would just sort of watch one movie after the other, after the other. We’d do like another theme night and stuff like that. And you know, I would dabble in that stuff. Because you know, back then, here and there you know, growing-up. I’d take like, your creative writing classes during the summer and stuff like that. At the behest of my mom. But, it didn’t really get like until, I would say like, we were professional type of serious levels around 2008. I actually got the book, Marie Coffman’s, “Make Your Own Damn Movie.” And from there I also got Robert Rigas, “A Rebel Without a Crew.” And from there I just bought a little camera. It was like $99.00 it was a little digital camera. And I made a student film, just using those two books as my jumping off point. And you know, I made a ton and a ton of mistakes. And just basically, you know, we shot at a friend’s house, an entire student film. And one lesson I learned that is, don’t make a feature length film for your first year project. Because it took a long time, a lot of time, and effort, and patience, to put up with everybody. And from there I just kept building onto it. And you know, I started to make short films after that, plenty of them. Enough, and I’ve learned a lot just doing those. And one of them is, don’t make an action film as your second film. Because the feature film was a, you know, a comedy. And it was a sci-fi comedy. You know, if that makes any sense? But when I, the second film, which was a short film I did. And it was an action film. Way, I wished way too much, way too quickly. And it ended up being just a complete mess. And then the third film I did was a short film. And I really wanted to get out of there. So, started doing, I started volunteering myself in Philadelphia. And you know, some, some like, New York, and New Jersey. You know, and I just wanted to get on people’s sets, doing whatever? You know, I wanted to just learn as much as possible. So I really, you know, I started basically doing any position that was offered to me. I would basically, some of the time I would be a PA, sometimes I would be location manager. And just sort of getting it as down pat. Introducing myself to a lot of different styles of working. And you know, from there I started to realize, okay, this is what I sort of developed in, when I walk onto a set. I can sort of tell within a pretty good period of time, you know, if this is going to be a professional set. If this is a fast and loose set, is this going to be a project that actually goes anywhere, or just sits on somebody’s hard drive? You know, all that stuff. And basically you know, I was able to, you know, work with actors, NFL films, you know, I was sort of able to do background work for someone always in Philadelphia. In front of that lights, transportation to, and all that stuff I used to do when I started filming in Philadelphia. Because now in Philadelphia the film market is pretty much dead, in terms of the big projects. Because of the tax incentives for it were taken away. So now what I’ve done since then is, since 2012-2013, right around that time. I’ve dedicated myself to screenwriting. I just basically said, “You know, I want to become not just good at a ton of stuff. Just like, you know, being a “Jack of all trades, but master of nothing.” I just want to be great at one thing. And that way that one thing is sort of my calling card. And I chose screenwriting because it was like coming up with different ideas, scenario’s stuff like that. And that’s why pretty much doing since about 2013, around there. I was just basically focusing. Basically, I know you can’t see me, we’re doing audio, but next movie is going to be basically my entire film library. Of just screenwriting works, and short DVD’s and most of it is screenwriting books. I own every screenwriting book pretty much I think you can buy. I know that’s probably not a good thing to admit? But I just, you know, I came up with, what’s the harm, right? I know some people who listen to this are going, “Ah, you know, worthless.” But you know, but just, I wanted to learn any which way I could. And you know, I started reading a lot more scripts, screenplays, movies I had never seen before. So I would envision it, watch the movie. You know, I would dissect movies that I enjoyed. And so, that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing for the past 2 or 3 years. I haven’t gone into too many more films, or sets, or anything like that. You know, just for a number of reasons but,
Ashley: so let me just, let me dig into a couple of things that you said. So, first you mention you called this, “Student Film” and but, it was a feature film. Did you try and find it in distribution? Did you send it to some film festivals? Or was it as you said, just sat disk on your hard drive?
Dave: Oh well, actually did finish it, complete it, edited it, put it out on DVD. We sent it to one film festival. And it was too long, so I just, that was the end of it. Now we hear, my friends and I get together who are in it, we watch it.
Ashley: (Chuckling) And you guys laugh all night.
Dave: Oh yeah, we laugh, and sometimes a bit of things comes up. Because it’s like hey, you remember that time when you no showed this? And you know, it’s just, it’s all funny in the end. But yeah, we actually, the film festival we summited it to was “Trauma Dance.” And it was just too long. And that was fine.
Ashley: How long was it?
Dave: It ended up being like 90 minutes.
Ashley: Okay, and they wanted shorts, they didn’t want features.
Dave: That, yes.
Ashley: I see, I see. One of the things that I think is fascinating about your story. Is that you’re basically, I mean, not just basically, you are outside of L.A. and I get a ton of Emails from people, you know, who are not in any part of L.A. They are even in New York. And they are just wondering what can they do to break in? So, let’s touch on that a little bit. I’m, I’d be real curious to just hear, like you’ve mentioned a bunch of these PA jobs, Location Coordinator. How did you actually network and find those opportunities? For you to use in Philadelphia. It’s got to be, I mean, it’s difficult in any city. But there’s got to be difficult in Philadelphia. Did you know someone? Did you meet that someone, kinda just give us the background of kinda how you got those first couple of jobs?
Dave: Oh, yeah, sure, absolutely. I actually going in, I knew nobody. I actually, you know, on the onset just, this is something I have always wanted to do. And I, my parents have no connections, or context, so I was going in there literally with nothing. And I sort of had to figure out how I was going to do this. And, in Philadelphia, there was an event, I found there was a film event and it was called a, “Scholsters Shorts.” At a, it wasn’t, it doesn’t exist anymore, they cut that event. It’s easy to do, once every three months. And well, I went there, and I was just able to meet a ton of people, a ton of other film makers. I was like, this is phenomenal. And they all had projects that they were showing that night. And some looked more professional than others. But, I was, you know, obviously they were all well balanced. And better than my high school film. Which I don’t think anybody else besides my son had seen? What I find funny, so I sort of used that, they had business cards. I didn’t have a business card at that point. But that’s how I met a lot of people just going to that one event. And I live like 30 minutes off of the South side of Philadelphia. So, it really wasn’t that bad of a drive. But, that’s where I met a lot of people. And from there I was sort of able to, you know, I would go on different film sets to help on about. Some people are still in the film industry, some are not. It wasn’t opened until I’d say, 2010? I really started to meet people in a lot of different professional level positions. Sort of like, you know, the UPM, for you know, oversite in Philadelphia. There was UPM for this project. I actually was able to meet a lot of really cool people shortly in 2010. And the reason for that was? Was because they built a sound stage literally about 2 minutes from my house, called, “Sun Center Studios.” And I got to be the first project actually filmed there. I made a TV pilot, which some people who’s Podcast was known called, “Game Over.” And from there, you know, we would go down the hall way and there was, hey, look, there was Spike Lee’s people. Hey, there’s the people doing “World War Z” when they were doing shooting here in Philadelphia. You know, those are the people doing
“Borne Identity.” And they were all very friendly. And you know, that’s where I met a lot of really cool contacts out of that.
Ashley: And so just describe, maybe you really are an outgoing guy, very personable? But, maybe you could just explain how you start these kinds of conversations? Obviously a lot of people, and I include myself in this, I feel kind of shy and awkward in these situations? Do you just go into this production office and introduce yourself and try and talk to them? What exactly did you try and do to actually network with those people?
Dave: Well, it’s kinda funny, they actually came to me. And they actually, I was on set, I was actually by myself, and the set was just about done. And I turned around and there were just a plethora of people in the door way. And I didn’t know who any of these people were. I was like, “Hi, I’m Dave.” And they all started introducing themselves. I thought it was like a run-off? I didn’t want to be, you know, too pushy or anything? So, later, I think maybe later that day, I was actually trying to find Wi-fi in the building? And they were just very hugely main office that was sort of the like, separated? And I walked in there and they were like, “No, dude, come on in. You’re making a project too just like us. Sit down.” And they were like all talking, and picking my brain. Just, you know, how? Because some of these guys are not from Philadelphia. So, like where’s a place to get a cheap cheese steak? And I’m like, eh, alright. So that’s sort of how it happened. I know it sounds kind of like the perfect situation. I know some people will say to us, like obviously how the hell did you get that position? A you know, I don’t always say this. You know, living, and I don’t want to use it to determine in the middle of nowhere? But, let’s just say you live near a big city. It’s not actually as bad as it may seem. And the reason is, Ashley, because if you’re going to make your own film. There’s a lot of benefits to sort of living in a rural area. As opposed to a city. Because you can get away with a lot more as I found out. Because living in a city like even living on the outskirts of Philadelphia. There’s a lot of hoops you have to jump through for a lot of different things. Verses living in a rural area, they have a lot more leeway. Because you might know the Chief of Police. Or you might know somebody because in a small town, you know, you get to know everybody.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, for sure.
Dave: And when you say, “Get away with” you’re talking about like an independent film. There’s just a lot of things that you can do. Because you know, if you’re going to do a gorilla film making style of shoot? There’s a lot more, you know, stealing the shot, you know. There’s a lot more you can do, where somebody, you know. Let’s say you walk into a store, he may not be at as adamant about you getting into insurance. Verses, you know, shooting in Philadelphia. Because as soon as you walk into Philadelphia, everybody wants to see it, an insurance bond, everyone wants to see this, this, and this. If you live in Illinois, one of the small cities, or small towns, or rural areas, you know. You might have more of the things accessible to you. Especially, you know, shooting things in the middle of the woods. That’s usually the go-to route. Because the middle of the woods you can shoot down a State Park, or there was a State Park down the street from me. You could shoot there for the entire day. And get a reserved almost like a, I don’t want to say, a gazeebo, but a, it’s this pretty big area with a thatched roof. You can get that whole thing tied up for the day for $50.00 a day. And there’s facilities right nearby there, for like restrooms and everything. And $50.00 a day is like absolutely nothing.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Good place now. I’m curious to get your opinion, why haven’t you made the move to L.A.? And what do you think of that, just from your perspective?
Dave: A you know, that’s a very good question? I, partly I’ve been trying to slowly make it out here from Philly, in terms of, you know, there’s still some people out here that I work with. And just this past fall I was actually working with Mark Beyandstock, is the producer from “Night Shavalon.” And he, they did what was it? “The Visit” together. And they are working on another project together because Beyandstock lives out here, he lives about down from where I am right now. And I always thought that the film industry was actually going to explode again, but it hasn’t. Ever since a couple of years ago, there was a project every other day it seemed. And now it’s like nothing. So, I’ve actually, you know, just quit my full-time job to focus on entirely on my Podcast, entirely on screenwriting and hiring on a couple of other things. And now, that I don’t have that, and actually, you know, are much more free to actually make the move. I would be lying to you Ashley, if I didn’t tell you I was planning on moving out to L.A. And it’s been on my mind a lot recently.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, one of the things I saw on your website was that you created a screenwriters group. And I’m curious, just to hear how that functions, and how that you were actually able to find other screenwriters in a small little town that you’re in.
Dave: Oh, sure. So, after Quentin Tarantino’s acceptance speech for
“Jangle and Chain” where he won the Oscar for Best Screenplay. You know, a friend of mine talking and you know, it’s funny enough, actually he just moved out to L.A. But, we were talking and we were saying, we should start a screenwriters group. Because I had been a part of two of them previously here in Philadelphia. I don’t, some people have actually moved back from L.A. Some people have moved back from New York. And they actually live in Philadelphia now. And you know, we get to talking, you know, we put up on, you know, Twitter, Facebook, some people are on LinkedIn. Some people are on, www.likemindedpeople.com These are all
like-minded people who actually do want to get into screenwriting. Or back into screenwriting. So, I’ve been able to, or how I’ve been able to start these various screenwriting groups. And some of them obviously falter because people lose interest, some people become too busy. But, the one we were just discussing, that I’ve started, is just a friend of mine, and we knew some other film makers. And we said, would you guys be interested in meeting, you know, once or twice a month? And they said, “Yeah.” And we kept it up for about two years. It didn’t fall apart until over this year. When they, the group became, and couldn’t meet anymore. Because like I was saying, a guy, he moved out the co-designer with me, he moved out to L.A. Because he does a lot of work with actors and models. And he was offered a job with in L.A. So that’s where he is. And other people went, you know, got new jobs, or you know, wanted to start a family here and really just did not have the time, any more time to dedicate to a group.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, how did your screenwriting group function? Do actors read pages? Do the writers read pages, do you guys give notes? How many writers present at any given session?
Dave: So, what we did was? We met twice a month. And the first month was, we allowed like a freewriting sort of project. Where short scripts, you know, five or ten pages. Just about something, just to sort of get your ideas flowing. It was completely up to you. If you didn’t want to participate, that’s fine. And the second half of that being, was that came the brainstorming. So that we could tell what you were working on. And we would give you feedback. And constantly, you know, work out different problems, you know, help each other out. And the second meaning of that month was? We had to hand in pages, a minimum of five, a max of 20. So, that way we could sort of just go through this process of projects and sort of see how it’s developing. And we really didn’t get into readings up until the project had many draft alterations and was pretty strong. And one of the writers at, that we brought in, you know, different actors, and actresses made the, they would read the lines out. You know, get their feedback just from an actors stand point. And you know, funny enough, that script ended up getting read on another Podcast. It was a Podcast actually read unproduced screenplays. And they were actually just find different people, you know, roles and stuff like that. And yeah, it was pretty interesting.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, okay, let’s talk about your Podcast for a minute, that you’ve mentioned it a little bit. Maybe you could just pitch it to us. And just kind of tell us maybe the element and what you Podcast is all about?
Dave: Sure, you know, every week I just interview a working person/professional and in the TV or film industry. And I just want to pick their brain about, you know, not only why they got in? But also their entire method of acting. Because it’s just amazing how three different people I’ve had on, and how many different methods of acting. I’ve been sort of been able to you know, hear about. Those, when everyone’s discussing this, it’s almost like, you know, some people have never been asked that before in a different way. Because it’s like, you know, they start discussing you know, the sort of built in building blocks of how they work. They sort of the building blocks of their day. Rather than just saying something like, “So, where did they get their ideas from?” I think some people just sort of, you know, get tired of that question. And are just, that question is, you know, whatever for some people. But, when I sort of break down the process, you know. Piece by piece you start to see it a little differently than asking a question like, “What are you going to do?” You know what I mean?
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, I had doc Kennedy, he tweeted in a question, he wanted me to ask you, and I think it’s just a great general question. You’ve probably answered it before? But, you know, what is sort of the number one thing that you’ve learned from interviewing all of these, you know, working film makers?
Dave: A, you know, that is a very good question. I actually wrote a blog post about that as well. Some of the things I’ve learned during a hundred episodes of my Podcast. The number one thing, that I’ve learned during that is? If you really want to do something? Like, you want to be a screenwriter, you have to sort of train yourself and base that self, base yourself around that. What I mean by that is? On my 100th episode, I had Don Barris, who had, or who actually works for Jimmy Kimmel. And he knew what he wanted to do, he wanted to get into comedy. And he would turn down any job that didn’t involve him having a mic in his hand. And he drove from you know, Saginaw Township Michigan, all the way out to L.A. Didn’t know anybody. He slept in his car for two months. And he just kept driving it, you know, he wanted to get into comedy. And you know, now he works for Jimmy Kimmel. But that’s something I’ve learned is the really. You got to sort of set your sights about what you really want. So, if you want to be a screenwriter? I don’t think that’s enough, I think you sort of have to break it down even further. And say, I want to be a comedy screenwriter, I want to write comedy. Is like, this writer, is sort of figure it out that way. And then you can sort of target that there. Because there, you know, producers come in all different shapes and sizes. They come in tastes is what I’m trying to say. And if you’re trying to pitch a horror screenplay to a producer that just does comedy. I did casting for, “Over Zone.” And did cast for “Dallas Club” and you know, all these Oscar winning movies. And he and I were talking, about the same thing? You really, he would only take on certain movies and you only get one chance to make that pitch. And you only get that one chance to make that first impression. And you want it to be an absolute grand slam shot! So if that’s one thing I took away from that is, you really have to set your sights real, really focus on one thing. And that way you can actually build upon that, and follow that. To see how you can get better and that specific area.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And maybe you could just highlight a couple of episodes? You know, someone just wants to, obviously with a hundred episodes that’s a lot to go through. But maybe, if there’s just one, two, or maybe three episodes that you would just want to really say, “Hey, just listen.” If you’re only going to just listen to just one episode, I would listen to this one. Maybe you could highlight one of them?
Dave: Oh sure. The one with Don Berris, which is episode #100, I thought that one was, you know, Don is phenomenal. The one with Cazey Ovis, that is a great episode. I also interviewed Alex Delerus who wrote and Co-Directed, “Birdman.” This was actually right before he won the Academy Award, that is a great episode. And, I mean, I’ve been able to interview not only screenwriters, but also producers, and different directors. You know, I got to talk to Sean Baker, who did, “Tangerine” that was a great interview. Because literally, he, you know, through everything he had at that. And finally, you know, something actually clicked, and he was able to, you know, get some other work out of that film. Which is great. You know, because basically that’s what you’re always trying to, you know, work towards the next project. You know what I mean, always trying to parlay that into something else. But just those few episodes, I mean, you know, like I said, I you know, to guess that. I don’t think I’ve really had a bad episode, except, always, you know, always try to focus them on the guest. To make sure that I’m just not able to ask them questions that maybe they’ve gotten before. You know what I mean? I shrine a sort of, I ask them stuff that maybe they haven’t heard of. Nah, usually the feedback I get is, “Hey, we’ve never been asked that before?” So, alright, cool. So, there are a few of the episodes I recommend.
Ashley: Yeah, perfect, perfect. So, I thought it might be interesting, just for a second? To kinda go inside baseball, obviously I run a Podcast, you run a Podcast. I’m a big proponent of getting out there and doing it, and doing stuff. My Podcast, you know, was a part of that philosophy. I mean, when I started it, I mean, experience producing video content or interviewing people. I just jumped in and started doing it? I figured it would be a great way to promote
“Selling Your Screenplay.” Also a great way to network as a screenwriter. And has done both. So, I would just be curious to hear from you why did you start your Podcast?
Dave: A, out of frustration, I started it out, out of pure frustration. It was around 2014, I think it was either February or March, if there is in 2014. I had done a Podcast with other people. And we had a great studio to use. And it was so hard to get everyone on the same page. Because it was myself and two other people. And we did about 3-4 episodes, and it just sat there. And I kept saying, “Guys, we should get back doing this, you know, it was very hard getting it together. So, basically I decided, you know what? I’m just going to do this thing myself. I’m just going to, you know, I know how to do it. So, why not? And I was able to get started. I got started, I launched it. I got my own host, I got my own equipment, and I just started it. And I also started it because I got turned down for promotion at my day job, that I don’t work at anymore. I should have gotten that promotion, but they nixed it? And they chose somebody else over me. And it was like, you know, alright then, I can see the writing on the wall. So, I started the Podcast in up again. Those two things were like the impotence to starting the Podcast.
Ashley: And so what were some of your goals with it? Did you have some sort of long term, hey it’ll be a great way to network with film makers? What was sort of your goal?
Dave: That was actual one of the goals was to network with film makers. I also wanted to increase my knowledge of me, giver of people. And also, I just wanted to do this, something creative, I just wanted to have some sort of creative outlet. Where somewhere, where I can actually get it produced. Because, you know, writing a screenplay is a wonderful, wonderful thing. But if it doesn’t get produced, you kinda get frustrated, you know what I mean? You kinda like, I created this thing, I don’t understand why it’s been a year, two years, three years, why can’t this thing get made? So, I decided, ya know, why don’t I just start a Podcast? A, you know, I’ve experience doing it, and you know, that’s what I wanted to do. I can see something that I can actually point to, and say, “See, this is done.” And I also sort of grabbed a novel too. I just received a phone call, with issue from the illustrator. So, I’m going to put the first four issues up on my website for free. It’s a practice graphic novel for just a creative outlet. I would never make a dime off of this. But that’s why, I wanted to see something I worked on actually, you know, get produced. Since I was thirteen, I had pretty much stopped doing projects, for a couple of different reasons. But, you know, that’s why, I was just sort of stifled creatively and pretty frustrated.
Ashley: And you said, “you had creative experience, during it. And you knew how to do it.” What kind of experience did you have going into this? Did you, was the experience just in doing those two or three episodes on that other Podcast? Or did you have professional experience producing your content?
Dave: A, little bit of both actually. Because on the one side, I had actually worked on other Podcasts before. And on the flip side of that, I had actually worked with different people producing audio with people, for like, events. I would usually get an audio and a video out. I would produce the video, and would post it online somewhere? I would take the audio and sit down and be like, in it with an mp3 or what have you? And so, just do those two things. I finally said, you know, I have, you know, all the skills necessary to complete this project, so, you know, why not?
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, do you think after doing a hundred episodes has it helped you now, work with some film makers? Like some tangible results that you can kinda point towards?
Dave: A, yeah. I would definitely agree with that. I definitely agree with that assumption. I mean, after all, we’re talking, right? So,
Ashley: That’s true.
Dave: So, you know, there’s a ton of other people. You know, for instance, I’ve been able to meet more film makers. And you know, I’ll follow them on Twitter, people will tweet me or whatever, what have you? Then all of a sudden, people will say, “Hey, you know Dave? I know Dave?” And then, you know, and now it’s sort of like that way. You know, Twitter is my networking choice tool, of social networking tool of choice platform. Because it’s just, I just feel like it’s so easy to start a conversation on Twitter. And that’s when I find a lot of guests as well. And that is also paid dividends for us. Because now whenever I post it, a Podcast now, I can see the analytics grow with every single episode. Which you know, is phenomenal.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And I’m curious, and this is kind of a general question? You know, a lot of people listening to this as I said, I’m a big proponent of getting out there and doing things. And seeing what happens? Are there any other things that you considered? It sounds like you were frustrated with this first Podcast. There are some other things that you consider doing as this sort of creative outlet like this. And I’m just asking the question, in case someone, you know what’s to do something, but they don’t necessarily want to do Podcasting? Was there any other ideas you considered for this same sort of creative networking outlet.
Dave: A, there actually was. The one, was the graphic novel, which I was actually able to complete. But the other one, though, was a YouTube show. I actually had a friend of mine who, you know, he has some connections as well. And, we brainstormed ideas, to pitch it to some people, to hey, we can do this YouTube show. It would be similar to a couple of YouTube shows I’ve seen on there. But, or touch on it? And basically, it would be, we would watch a bad movie and then we would try and put ourselves in that movie. Using the green screen and stuff like that. And you know, make it look like, you know, little short films out of it as well. I, you know, there are other people who are doing it, stuff like that right now. But at the time, you know, it was sort of like? I don’t know if there was too many other shows out there like that? But, that was one of the other ideas. I mean, because we had the camera, we had the lighting, we had the green screen. We were going to shoot it in this guy’s basement. I mean, we actually put a lot of planning into this. When we pitched it, the person actually liked it, and unfortunately we. I can’t really go into the details, but, a person’s boss didn’t like it so much.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah.
Dave: Unfortunately that’s what stopped us. Now granted, Ashley, we could have shot that thing and done it ourselves. But that would have been pretty time consuming. So, that’s why I decided, you know, the Podcast would be a little less time consuming. And still allow me to do screenwriting.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, what’s the best way for people to keep up with you? Kinda just follow you along. You mentioned you use Twitter a lot, so you can mention your Twitter handle here, or your blog too. You’re very active there as well. So, maybe just mention that stuff. And I’ll round all that stuff up and get it into the show notes, and just give a shout out to it.
Dave: Sure, you know what? Everyone can find me at www.davebullis.com. And there’s a contact form from there as well, you can just shoot me an Email. If you ever want to shoot me an Email for whatever reason? Or Twitter it’s – @Dave_Bullis. But Yeah, that’s the best way to reach me.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect. Thank you Dave I really appreciate it, you coming on the show and talking with me. A very informative episode, lots of great information.
Dave: Oh, actually my pleasure, and I thank you for all you do.
Ashley: A quick plug for the SYS Screenwriting Analysis Service. It’s a really economical way to get a high quality professional evaluation on your screenplay. When you buy our 3-Pack: You get an evaluation at just $67.00 per script for full length feature films, and just $55.00 for Tele-plays.
All the readers have professional experience reading for: Studios, production companies, contests, and agencies. You can read a short bio for each reader from the website, and you can pick 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 6 key factors.
- Over all craft – Which includes – Formatting, spelling, grammar
Every script will receive a grade of – Pass, Consider, or Recommend. Which should roughly help you understand where your script might rank. If you were to submit it to a production company or agency.
We provide analysis on feature films, and television scripts. We also do proof reading, without any analysis. We will also look at a treatment or outline and give it the same analysis on it. So, if you’re looking to vet some of your project ideas? This is a great way to do it. We will also write log-lines and synapsis for your project. You can add this service to an analysis or you can simply purchase this service as a stand-alone product.
As a bonus, if you script receives a “Recommend” from our reads, you get a free Email and Fax Blast to my list of industry contacts. This is the exact same Fax Blast 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 scripts into the hands of producers who are looking for new material. So, if you want a professional evaluation of your screenplay at a very reasonable price, just check out – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/consultants, again that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/consultants.
In the next episode of the Podcast, I’m going to be interviewing Perry Tao, who just wrote and directed a film called, “The Curse of Sleeping Beauty.” Which is a kind of modern day retelling of the classic “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week.
To wrap things up, I just want to touch on a few things of today’s interview with Dave Bullis. Hopefully there are a lot of take-aways from the interview. A number of lessons that you can really apply to our own careers. I really liked the way Dave just goes out and does things, from starting a writers group. To starting a Podcast, to just going to local film events and networking. And that’s really the name of the game in this business, especially if you’re not in L.A. And you’re gonna have to make a big effort to meet people and network. A Podcast is a great way to do that in this day and age. Dave is a great example of that, as he mentioned here a little bit. He had a little bit of experience doing audio content. So, it was a good fit for him. But, you know, there’s tons of ways at this day and age to get out there. Use the skills you have, use the talents you have. To just get out there and line where ever and local film events. And just start networking and start meeting people. Start getting yourself into sort of the local industry that exists. No matter how small it is, I can almost guarantee you that, every reasonably sized city or town in the world probably? But certainly in the United States and the U.K. and Australia, there’s going to be some people that are interested in film. That have aspirations to be in the film business. And it’s a matter of meeting those people to just start creating content.
Before the SYS Podcast, I didn’t have any experience with creating Podcasts, creating audio content. I just figured I could just figure it out as I went along. And in fact, I’m still figuring it out. And I’m improving things as I go. I’ve done a hundred, well over a hundred episodes now. I still feel like I have a lot to learn. And I’m still tweaking the system and making my Podcast better. So, nothing is ever perfect, and if you wait for it to be perfect. And wait till you have everything in place. I just don’t think you’re ever gonna get there. And you can go back and listen to a lot of my Podcast episodes, and they’re a lot of them are pretty rough around the edges. But you know, I keep putting them out there, and keep trying to get better. I’ve talked about this before as well. When I was doing the “Kick-Starter Campaign” in January/February of this year. One of the biggest benefits of doing it, aside from obviously raising the money for the film. Was just interacting with people who listened to the Podcast. Just lots and lots of people who listen to this Podcast, who reached out to me, and just started a conversation. Generally, via Email, but sometimes even after this via the Kick-Starter Messaging System. But the bottom line was, that there was networking going on and meeting people. And in fact, that’s exactly how on that day Dave Bullis found my Kick Starter Campaign. I think he may have been listening to my Podcast. But he found the Kick Starter Campaign, I think he contributed a little bit of money, $20.00 or something? And he just reached out and said, “Hey, I run this Kick Starter, and I like what you’re doing. You know, maybe we could chat sometime?” And that kinda got a conversation going. And has, yeah, let’s both interview each other for the Podcast. And so, now, it’s like Dave Bullis knows me, and I know Dave Bullis. And it’s just, again, just getting out there and doing stuff, just getting out there and meeting people. One of the big things I’m finding, doing this film. I’m only half-way through pre-production. Obviously I’ve been in the business for a while, so there’s a lot of people I already know. I certainly using a lot of people that I’ve known for years with this production. But, you know, I’m meeting a lot of new people, the First AD is somebody I didn’t know. The Cinematographer, is someone who again, reached out to me through Kick Starter. And so, now I’m getting to know him, getting to know the First AD. Lots of new people, a lot of the cast and crew are certainly I’ll be using a lot of cast people I do know. But, of the cast, the two main leads, I really don’t know anybody that’s right for those two main leads. So, I’m going to have to get outside my own, you know, networking and my own network of people. And I’m going to have to find new people, and meet those actors and interact. And I’ll know those actors really well by the end of this shoot. I’ll, I don’t know if I’ll be friends with them? But I will know them pretty well. And maybe some of those relationships will progress and move onto other projects. Movie making is such a collaborative process. That having these connections, and knowing people, crew people, cast people, knowing these people is really essential to me and getting stuff done. I mean, nobody is going to make a movie on their own. I don’t know, maybe you could if you were an animator, and you know, could do your own voices and do your own animation. Maybe you could create something there? Just completely, wholly by yourself. But, for the most part, you know, you need to know people. You need to get out there and meet people. Again, I just really like what Dave had to say, but he just went into local events in Philadelphia. He just starting writing groups, he just starting a Podcast. He’s just getting to know people. And my guess is, virtually every single person in the Philadelphia area who’s into film making? Who have aspirations of being a filmer. I bet they’ve heard of Dave Bullis. I bet they kind of know of him. If they don’t know him personally? I bet they know him, he’s kinda personally becoming a big fish in a small pond. And you know, meeting those people, they will be able to help him on his project. And just help him progress on his career. And I think that’s what all of us needs to be doing. Whether it be, networking with producers, actors, directors, whomever? Those people can help us as writers. We can help them, and they can help us. And this is how it goes. So, we really encourage people to go out there and start doing stuff, A Podcast, a short film, a low-budget feature film, just anything. I mean, going in and becoming a screenwriter, at least for myself. It’s been, just a creative outlet. I like to do creative things and get them out into the world. And if, one of my big frustrations, is being a screenwriter. Is that, I’ve written, you know, probably 35-50 feature length scripts. And only a handful of them actually get produced. And that’s not uncommon. I probably have a pretty good percentage. I think I have six feature film credits. And I don’t think I’ve written sixty scripts. More than 10% of what I have written. But that can be very frustrating. So, getting to know some of these people, and getting to the point where you can actually see your stuff get out there. And your Podcast, and these other things, short films. I mean, these all can be creative outlets, Podcasts can be a creative outlet, short film can be a creative outlet, a micro-budget feature film can be a creative outlet. And so, to me, these things are very much, sort of about why I got into being a screenwriter. I didn’t become a screenwriter because I thought, gee, to make oodles of money. I think you want to make oodles of money. I think there are probably quicker and easier ways to do it than screenwriting. I got in it because I thought it was cool, I liked the creative process. So, all these things I’m suggesting, kind of feed into that, that are a part of it. And my own Podcast, I really feel like this is part of the creative process as well. I really enjoy doing the Podcast. And I’m meeting people through the Podcast. But again, if Podcasting isn’t for you, try something else, a short film, a micro-budget Feature, maybe just networking on Twitter, maybe going to something like
“Stage 32” and networking and meeting people. Going to local film festivals. Maybe starting your own film festival. Where there’s no film festival in your area, start your own film festival. There really is to be as creative as you can be. There is probably opportunities, but you know, exist there. It’s a matter of being creative, figuring out what you are good at? What you like to do? And put those talents to use. And it doesn’t just have to be running or writing screenplays, or going over just writing scripts that may or may not ever get produced. There is just so many, so many things we could all be doing.
Anyway, that is the show, thank you for listening.