Ashley: Welcome to episode #201 of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screener and blogger of the www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing writer, director, producer Lanre Olabisi. He’s done a number of independent features and shots and he comes on to talk about the process of writing and directing and producing those films. So stay tuned for that interview.
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Quick few words about what I’m working on. So a quick update on The Pinch, which is my crime, action, thriller feature film that I am finishing up on. My sound mixer delivered the first parts to me last week of the final sound mix, which I listened to and then sent back a few notes to him, so that’s moving on nicely. I wouldn’t expect more than another week or two on that. Hopefully not longer than that, but that’s definitely moving forward and that’s really the final piece, and then once that sound mix is done, just go back to my editor and we basically put all the pieces together and then we start out putting the finished films. So that’s exciting. It’s getting very very close.
So I spent yesterday at AFM, which is the American Film Market. I talk about AFM quite often on the podcast, so hopefully you know a little bit about it. If you don’t, I will just describe it real briefly here, but definitely check out their website and just try and get a feel for what it is. It’s a potential place where you as a screen writer could make some connections. So just keep in mind of sort of your hearing about it. If you’ve never heard about it before, just kind of keep it on the back banner and maybe do a little research on your own. I’m headed back down there after I record this podcast episode.
Basically, AFM was created for distributors to sell movies to foreign buyers. So the foreign buyers from around the world would come to Santa Monica and they would go to visit the Loews Hotel and each room has been converted into an office. And so these buyers would go from room to room, the distributors who have the rights to the movies, they rent these rooms and then the buyers go from room to room and they try and find content that they think would be suitable for their market that they’re buying for. As an example, it might be someone that buys films for a TV station in Australia. And they would come and they would look at the films, they would see what they might need for their broadcast and they would then make a deal with the distributor.
It didn’t take long for filmmakers to realize that all the distributors were in one place. So now what’s happened of course, the buyers come in and they do business with the distributors, but now also there’s a lot of filmmakers that started showing up and trying to sell their films to distributors. That’s basically what I’ve been doing. I sent out the trailer and a screener to a number of distributors and set up as many meetings as I could, and then now I’m just basically going down there. As I said I was down there yesterday, I’m gonna go back down there today, I have three meetings today with distributors. You just get in there, you kind of talk to them and just really get a feel for them. I mean, there’s nothing super concrete that comes out of it. Like as I said, I’ve sent them the trailer and I would say really the trailer is all that they look at for setting up the meeting. And then most of them I’ve not had the time to watch the actual film yet, but they look at the trailer and they’re like, “Yea, this potentially could be something that we would be able to distribute.”
They say, “Okay, fine let’s have a meeting,” we go in there for a meeting. And then you just try and chat with the people and just try and get a feel for them. There’re so many shady distributors out there that will rip off the filmmakers and so you just got to really look in the whites in their eyes and see, is this someone I trust, is this someone I wanna be in business with. That’s really the main point of the meetings because truthfully, you could do it all. You could do it via Skype, you could do it via email, you could contact these distributors. And some of them are not even in those Los Angeles area. Some of them are in different parts of the world, they just come to Los Angeles for this particular film market.
That’s what I’m basically doing. I have found a few distributors who are willing to take the film on, but so far, no one has offered an advance or any kind of a minimum guarantee. All that means is you know a distributor, a really hot commodity, a film with really good cast or something, a distributor might really want that movie, so they would be moved to go and say, “Hey, we’ll give you a minimum guarantee of—just to make the math easy–a million dollars, and well maybe give you an advance of $200,000.
If you’re a producer and maybe you made your movie for around a million dollars, this is like, “Okay, that’s sounding like a pretty good offer.” For a film like mine, there’s no cast, and I knew going into it, that’s gonna be a big knock on the film. There’s really not a lot to the film. There’s no cast , I’m not like a name writer or director and so it’s basically just sort of a non-branded film that gets thrown out there and in this type of a world, the way we’re living, is there’s just so much content out there. It’s difficult to really get attraction with a film like The Pinch.
Hopefully this podcast, hopefully I can go to another podcast, hopefully I can promote it…Film Festival, all that can start to be promoting it. But the bottom line is I’m not finding the distributors are eager to give me any kind of an advance or a minimum guarantee, and that’s not surprising. Again what I’m really trying to do is just get a feel for the distributors and see if there’s one that I like. That’s what I’m basically doing, is just as I said going down there, trying to do some meetings, and then later this week I will start to really ramp up my film festival submissions and hopefully start to see some success with that. I’ve gone on FilmFreeway and started to just go through it, look at some of their…you know once you join their site they start sending you emails and some of the emails are highlighting a particular festival. Some of them are in Los Angeles, some of them look like they might take a crime, action, thriller film like The Pinch.
So I’m storing those, I’m putting them in a bin in my Gmail account. I’ll go back and look at those later this week and then start to make some actual submissions to festivals. That’s sort of the other piece of this. As I said, I’m not getting any minimum guarantees, I’m not getting any advances. If I can start to build a little bit of press or momentum through festivals, through promoting it myself, then I might be able to go back to the distributor. And a film like this, it’s not gonna be a big deal. Like the distributors that have basically made me offers, it’s not gonna be a big deal if I go back to them. I don’t think it’s gonna be a big deal anyways if I go back to them in six months, say, “Okay, I’m ready to sign the deal now.” And in the meantime that will give me a chance to hit some of these festivals, and you never know what could happen at the festivals. Certainly the festivals in the Los Angeles area, there might be some distributors that go to those festivals, so I’m gonna hit the…I’m in Los Angeles area, so I’m gonna hit those festivals hard. All the LA festivals I will try and hit.
Again, I can attend…the cast, the crew, we can all attend because we live here in Los Angeles area. And then also there’s also the possibility that maybe I could meet someone there that might like it. But the bottom line is, this is the sort of…just the heat that you need to build in your film. The promotion, you start to get some people liking the film, backing the film, supporting the film and a distributor might go to one of these film festivals screenings, they might see how the audience react, people really like it hopefully and so that may be just enough to persuade a distributor. “Hey, this is something, this does have something that maybe we could get an angle on.”
That’s my plan. As I said, I’m not feeling like I’m gonna get any great offers out of this AFM, so the next step I’m probably gonna hit the Film Festivals for six, nine months and then I will circle back, hopefully with a list of acceptance to a few festivals, maybe even some awards, and then I will start to go back to the same distributors and say, “Hey, I won this award.” And just see what is the best deal I can cut amongst the distributors that are willing to distribute the film.
Anyway, that’s what I’m working on. Now let’s get into the main segment. Today I am interviewing writer, director, producer, Lanre Olabisi. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Lanre to the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Lanre: Thank you for having me.
Ashley: To start out, maybe you can just give us a little overview of your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Lanre: I grew up in Plainville, New Jersey and my interest in filmmaking actually began with a screen writing class I took my junior year of college. I went to the University of Michigan and my teacher at the time was Jim Burnstein and he had just done Renaissance Man, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that film?
Ashley: Yea, yea.
Lanre: Yea, that was the first one that he had done, had a pretty decent budget and I think he had just been hired to write Mighty Ducks II or Mighty Ducks III. I don’t recall which one it was, but it was one of the best classes that I’d ever taken, so I decided…At that point it opened my eyes to the possibility of pursuing a career in filmmaking, but I never really thought it was gonna actually be possible.
Ashley: Is this a screen writing class? It sounds like he was a screen writer or was a film…
Lanre: Yea, it’s purely screen writing. And then I think that year I had also taken video production class, so I became interested in both screen writing and directing at that point.
Ashley: Okay. And what year in college was this do you say?
Lanre: Junior year.
Ashley: Junior year, so then you had to sort of shift. Did you end up being a film major?
Lanre: Nope, I was an English major.
Lanre: And the thing…those weren’t even…if I recall…I don’t even think those were film classes per say to be honest with you, because I remember wanting to do some of the film courses in college, like once I saw, “Oh wow, this is kind of interesting,” and only film majors were allowed to take the film courses. So actually, other than those two classes, I have never taken a film course in the school.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. So then you’re done with college. What are some of your first steps to actually start making movies, writing scripts? Did you start to write a couple of scripts in college? Maybe just talk about those first steps out of college.
Lanre: I moved to Spain right out of college and I ended up living there for about four years. While I was there, I wrote three scripts actually. I wrote and rewrote them and eventually it became time where I was like, okay, I need to come back to the United States because I knew I still wanted to pursue a career in this field. And once I got back, that’s when I made my first real short film. And then what happened…
Ashley: Talk about that move though. So you’re living in Spain, did you go over there for anything to pursue in the film business, like was [crosstalk] a post college experience to live abroad?
Lanre: Post college experience, live abroad. It was very important to me to learn another language. I ended up learning Spanish while I was over there. And then eventually since I knew that filmmaking was my passion I knew that I had to come back. So it was like time to come back, time to start making work, time to start producing things basically.
Ashley: And so then when you came back, where did you end up? New York, LA, and how did you make that decision?
Lanre: I went back to Jersey actually for a while just because I didn’t have any money when I came back and then I moved after about a year of staying with my mum, I moved to New York, just because for me I’ve been to LA before, I didn’t particularly like it, no offense LA people. Just wasn’t my style. So, I like New York and I’ve been living here since 2000 actually.
Ashley: Perfect. So then what were those first steps? You said you came back, you knew you had to produce some stuff. Had you written a short film, had you done any production? How did you take those initial steps? Did you know enough people in New York to get a crew together? Maybe just talk about that for a shorter little bit.
Lanre: The first thing that I started to do, was I started to work on feature length films as a production assistant. And then from my production assistant work I started doing other jobs on set, like I was a boom up on some shoots, both features, television and a couple of shots. Then I was also an electrician for a couple of features and I soon found that I didn’t actually like working on set because I was working these long ridiculous hours, 12, 13, 14 hours a day, and I wasn’t writing anymore, I wasn’t producing any of my own stuff. So I said, okay, let me not do that. And at that point I had met enough people to be able to at least crew some positions.
So I said, I’m just gonna start focusing on making my own stuff. So making my own shots and commercials. I made a few spec commercials, and then I did a couple of music videos and after that, I ended up going back to grad school at City College in New York. When I was in grad school, I had already been working on my fourth screenplay, which ended up being my first movie. I came into school with that. So I let them know at the onset that I was going to be shooting a feature film as a part of my thesis.
Ashley: Okay. And so, all the schooling and that stuff, you started to get in and do edits, like you learnt how to do editing, and you learnt how to do some of all these technical things, going to film school, working on the shots.
Lanre: Well, it was more from working on the shots to be honest with you, because I already had a pretty good base once I went to film school. And remember, this was back in the day where to get an Avid cost so much money. Even for somebody to have a gig…it’s kind of funny now, but have a gig on storage space, I mean, that was so expensive back then. So one thing that…you started seeing the onset of these different nonlinear edit programs. I remember I had an Avid Xpress DV way back in the day. I ended up installing it on my computer, and I ended up learning how to edit myself, because it was really difficult to get editors to work for free or for next to no money. If you’re going on their schedules, then they fix you in when they can, which could make your project drag on for like a few months. So at that point I just said to myself, “Well, I’m just going to start editing this myself.“ And I started learning different aspects of the craft just because I didn’t wanna wait.
Ashley: Yea, let me just back up a little bit. I always get people kind of looking really the early parts of their career trying to break in. Maybe you can give a couple of tips. Like how did you get those PA jobs? Just anything you remember. Was it replying to Craigslist ad, was it networking at parties, friends of friends going through colleges?
Lanre: My first ones were…wait, let me think. You know what, one of my friends that I had known from Spain. He connected me with somebody else who was living in New York at the time. He was working on a bunch of film sets. This person actually ended up being my co-writer for my first feature film shot Alexander. Once I had met Shawn, we hit it off and Shawn was doing a lot of PA work. So I said, “Oh, can you recommend me for a job or can I work on any these sets?” And really, once you get on the set, it’s pretty easy to start getting on sets after that. I mean you could also look on…not sure how popular Craigslist was back then, but I remember looking on www.mandy.com a lot back then and getting a few things from that. But a lot came from friends that I had made or connections that I had. I do think early early on I did do a couple of things for free just to get set experience because I had no idea what the heck I was doing.
Ashley: So, now you’re starting to produce these shots. What did you do to promote those? Did you enter them into film festivals, did you send them to agents and managers? Maybe talk about that process a little bit. Number one, what was sort of your goal with these shots and number two, how did you take steps to actually achieve that goal?
Lanre: My goal with the shots was just always to make something. It wasn’t until later that I started having like specific festival goals. I did send out my early shots to film festivals, but I was just trying to make a good film and figure out how to make a good film. And so when I saw them and they were bad, I realized, okay, these are my weak points and these are the things that I need to start working on, like…One of the early things that I realized was just working with top notch DPs that actually were much more experienced than me, actually had me learn a lot about their process and really get better in terms of my own visual aesthetic.
Ashley: Okay. So let’s dig into your latest feature film Somewhere In The Middle. Maybe to start out, you can just give us a quick pitch or sort of log line about that film, and I’ll link to the trailer in the show notes, but someone hasn’t seen the trailer maybe you can just kind of give us a quick pitch.
Lanre: Yea, it’s a love story that involves four different characters about a field relationship and the love triangle that ensues there. And the interesting thing about this story is that it goes back and forth in time, so you’re constantly seeing the world from different characters perspectives. So you see the marriage dissolve from one character’s perspective and you start having an understanding of what it looks like for that specific character, and then you start seeing it from another character’s perspective. So it’s kind of like peeling an onion, and the deeper you get, the more and more nuanced it becomes.
Ashley: And so where did this idea come from? Sort of the genesis of it. Personal experience or seeing friends go through break ups?
Lanre: The film was actually built off of improvisations because me and two of the main actors did a screen and Marisol Miranda, we were all friends and we wanted to work on something and we couldn’t figure out what to do. And all of us are familiar with Meisner actor training, right. So what we started to do is we just started doing impros based of off different Meisner exercises. And from there we started talking about character, we started talking about building relationships, we started talking about building scenarios and then as things started to progress, I started to add more and more actors to the mix, but not all of the actors knew that new people were coming in if that makes any sense.
So I’ll just say, with actors that I have worked with, I would pull them aside and ask them, “Are you interested in working on something. This is what we’re doing, we’re going to start improving. I met Marisol and Charles once in a library and I just told them, “Okay, you’re gonna go into the library.” I would tell them where to be and I would just listen in on their conversation, just acting like I was a normal patron as they were improving, meeting one another. So once the characters were established and set up, we did the improvisational period, that took about six months, and then I wrote it like a traditional screenplay for the next six months.
And once that was set, that’s when we decided, okay, let’s do a kick starter. We did a kick starter to pay for the production budget of the film, which was $100, 000. Once the kick starter was successful, we literally had an angel investor who wrote me on G-chat and said, “Hey, do you need any more money?” And I was like, “What? Yea, of course.” Because I knew that I was just gonna get a Stoop Production. So, the initial investor basically came in with another $100,000 and that’s the budget.
Ashley: There was literally just someone your kick starter campaign and invests in this type of projects and…
Lanre: It’s somebody who I’ve met in 2008 at a film festival. He was a Facebook friend and I had asked him to contribute to the kick starter campaign but I had no idea that he and a basketball player Chris Webber were developing this fund to support low indie films and I was like, “Sure.”
Ashley: Okay, there’s a couple of things I wanna dig into that. So, take us back to the meeting of this guy. You said you met him at a film festival, correct?
Lanre: Yes. I was a juror at the Atlanta Film Festival in 2008 I believe.
Ashley: Okay. So what’s sort of your approach to something like that? You hand out a lot of business cards and you try and get them, become Facebook friends with them and then build a relationship that way. It’s nothing pre-meditated?
Lanre: No. Over the years , and I could be wrong, but over the years I have come to the conclusion that…like if you would have asked anybody they would say that I’m not a particularly good networker. I don’t go to parties, I don’t say, “Oh, hey! Nice to meet you.” I’m not like the life of the party. That is not me at all. I do not hand out business cards. As a matter of fact I never hand out business cards. I used to back in the early days and I was just like nobody ever calls me from this, and I’d never gotten really any good connections from those. So I pretty much stopped doing that.
Now to be honest with you, when I meet people and from what I’ve seen, I don’t know if these relationships that I build are going to ever pay off, or they’re gonna pay off in eight years or they’re gonna pay off in 10 years, because the people who have come to help me the most, I never would have expected it like 10 years ago. For example one of my best friends, he ended up contributing a good chunk to the film as well. He gave us $30, 000. And when I first met him, we were bartending together and he was getting kicked out of his house because he couldn’t afford the rent. And then turned around and 12 years later he’s giving $30, 000. So it’s like you never know what’s gonna happen with anybody and you never know the trajectory of anybody.
So there I’m 1000% positive in two, three, four, five years, I’m going to meet somebody down the…or not I’m gonna meet somebody, like somebody who I’ve met previously, who I’ve kept in good standing with, good relationship with, is gonna come around and help me move whatever project I’m working on at that point to the next level. You just never know. So I just keep good relationships with everybody that I meet.
Ashley: Yea. And you know I clicked on your website at one point, I was clicking around and I noticed Chris Webber was mentioned as an executive producer. And I’m curious, right when we got on you said you went to University of Michigan. Was there any connection there, or that’s just a coincidence that Chris is from Michigan and you went to Michigan?
Lanre: Well, no connection there, really. I was on the wresting team when I was in Michigan, and obviously Chris was on the basketball team, and we actually practiced in the same arena. My freshman year was Chris’ freshman year. So I would see Chris everyday but when we spoke on the phone, he vaguely remembered me. Which means he probably didn’t remember me at all. I mean, because that was over…how many years ago? That’s like 20 years ago. It’s like 25 years ago.
Ashley: I just remember, one of the first PA jobs I ever got in Hollywood, it was some weird thing where like the person new someone that had gone to the same college as I and so, these little things sometimes can help. There was a hundred resumes and he just looked at mine and I just wonder if there wasn’t at least some connection there.
Lanre: No, it was just dumb blind luck I guess. But actually, I can’t really say it was dumb blind luck because if I had never done the kick starter, then they never would have reached out to me…I know that it was all the facts. The hardest part is making that first step yourself, and I feel like once you make that first step, because I was very confident that if we get this money and we get the film in the kin, we are going to get money to finish it. And everybody would ask me, “How?” And I’d say, “I don’t know how.” But I know it’s gonna happen. And in my experience that’s always been what’s happened. If you make that first step, the universe conspires towards you to actually see it through to the end.
Ashley: Yea, it’s the old story hustle is contagious for sure. For sure. So, let’s dig in a little bit to the kick starter. Are there any tips coming out of that experience that you can offer to people who wanna run their own kick start. $100, 000 is especially…unless you had done a number of deals maybe with your shots or something. But $100, 000 is quite a bit of money to do on your first [Inaudible 00:27:44] kick starter. Probably not even recommended for most people. But maybe you can just talk about that experience a little bit. How did you do, what did you do, sounds like you were reaching out to your Facebook friends, but what other steps did you take to just bring light to it?
Lanre: That was primarily it. It was really reaching out to my Facebook friends. And I think that’s the whole networking thing and being nice to everybody that I’m talking about, because 90%…the actors who were involved were also reaching out to their Facebook friends and probably 95% of the money that we raised was through our own network and our own connection. So, you’re a miserable prick to people, then people are obviously gonna say, “No, I’m not gonna give you anything.” But if people want to see you win…because in a kick starter the people who love you, they’re gonna be the ones who come in first. Your mum, your dad, your relatives hopefully and some of your best friends. Hopefully they come in first.
Now, the trick to kick starter is getting the people who just like you and just kind of wanna see you win. If you win, great. If you don’t it doesn’t really affect my life. So, those are the tricky people to get. I felt like the best way to get them was to show that they would be hopping on to a winning team. So, for me showing that we had support early on was very important. So, like I think two weeks before the kick starter was going to launch, me and the rest of the group asked…I think we each asked 20 people, so about 140 people, to come in with whatever amount they could on that very first day. So it seemed like we had a following.
So the first day we ended up raising close to $20,000 and it’s like, wow, people who would go and look, would automatically say, “Okay, these people aren’t a joke.” Because I’ve also gotten kicks tarter campaigns and kick starter requests and they ask me to look at their project, they’re five days in and they had one person with $100 raised. And for me it’s like, okay that’s kind of a joke because you can’t even get your mum, your dad and a couple of really good friends to pledge? Like if you can’t get those people to pledge, then I’m not gonna pledge. But if you can and you show, “Oh wow, okay. This is a possibility.” Then, yea, absolutely. I’ll go and pledge.
Ashley: Perfect: I’m curious, how many Facebook friends do you have, and how many of them would you say are actually…I’ve been torn on this, because I get a lot of friend requests just running the podcasts, and I’ve tried to only friend people that I actually interact with in person. And I don’t know that’s the smartest thing. It sounds like these friends, like this guy from the film festival, you met him once, you Facebook friended him, so how much interaction was it? But let’s back it up. Just roughly speaking, how many Facebook friends do you have and then what sort of brackets are those people in?
Lanre: At this point I have 2300 Facebook friends. At the time when we did the kick starter I had 1500. My criteria for being a Facebook friend is, if we walk down the street and I stop and I say, “Hey, how are you doing?” Then we can be Facebook friends. But if you Facebook friend me and I’m like, I have no idea who this person is and if they walked past me I would still have no idea who they are, I’m not gonna accept the request and I’m not going to friend them. But if we actually had a relationship at some point, like the guy that I met at the film festival, we were hanging out the entire film festival. So, if we had just met once and we had just talked briefly then I wouldn’t request him. But it’s the fact that we had built something, somewhat of a rapport there. If that makes any sense.
Ashley: Yea, sure. And you mentioned too that…it sounds like there was 16 members, you guys all reached out to 20 people. Maybe you can talk about those five other team members and what they brought to the project. Just so we get a sense, because I think this is a great thing for people that wanna do kick starters. They build a team because as one person you only know so many people, but if you get five people or six people, then your network opens up that much more. So maybe you can just talk about those five other people and what they brought to the project.
Lanre: They were the actors in the project. You want people who actually have skin in the game, you know; who actually want to see the project made. And of course some people are willing to end up working harder than others and I think that always happens and one of the things that I think the director needs to realize is that the directors probably the writer…there’s always going to be one person who wants it much more than everybody else. And that person is going to be doing a brand of the work, bringing in a brand of the money. And they just have to understand that that’s just the way it is. To expect some sort of equity just isn’t gonna happen and you’re just gonna drive yourself crazy. But the contributions from everybody else are absolutely necessary because without that extra visibility you probably wouldn’t be…you definitely couldn’t do it on your own.
Ashley: So these actors, were they people that you were friends with or did you have casting sessions and bring people in? How did you get these five actors?
Lanre: I had worked with all of them before. One of the people was in my first film. I had directed a couple others and a play before. A number in different sorts of plays. I just interacted and worked with them and saw how they worked and liked how they worked and I said, okay, these are people that I wanna continue working with.
Ashley: Did any of them as actors have large social media followings? Big YouTube Channel, big twitter following, nothing like that.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. How can people see Somewhere In The Middle? Is it on Video On Demand services?
Lanre: Yea, it’s on Netflix as well, it’s on Amazon, it’s on…what other thing is it on…Well, Netflix and Amazon are the big main ones. And then my first film which is August The First, that’s on Netflix DVD and it’s also on Amazon Streaming. And Video On Demand I think.
Ashley: Perfect. What are you working on next?
Lanre: I am working on another feature which is a [inaudible 00:35:01] comedy about a African American martial arts student who accidentally kills a White undercover New York City detective and then tries to get away with it, but he’s kind of surprised when a couple of people show up on his door trying to black mail him. They have a video of the actual crime.
Ashley: Wow, sounds fascinating. How can people keep up with what you’re doing? Facebook, twitter, anything you’re comfortable sharing, I will round up and put in the show notes.
Lanre: Okay, I’m on twitter although I don’t tweet that often and then also on Instagram. Lanrito.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. As I said, I’ll get all that stuff up, put it in the show notes. Lanre, I really appreciate your coming on the show and talking with me today. I wish you luck with Somewhere In The Middle and your next film as well.
Lanre: Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me too. This is great.
Ashley: Thank you.
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On the next episode of the podcast, I’m gonna be interviewing writer, director, producer Justin Price. He’s written and directed and produced four films just this year in 2017. He is a force of nature, he is very open about how things came together for him. He’s just a guy like a lot of us, came from the East Coast, moved to Los Angeles and he really is very open and generous with his time and just sort of telling how he made it and how he got his first films off the ground. I think at this point he’s got to have 15 or 20 produced feature films, and as I said four of them are just this year. He’s a real go getter, a real hustler and he’s got a tone of just really great actionable information for all of us. So keep an eye out for that episode next week.
To wrap things up I just wanna touch on a few things from today’s interview with Lanre. There’s a lot of great information in the interview today. One of the big things, and I’ve mentioned this so often before, and I highly recommend that you do a little research on Lanre. Really go through his website, go through his other projects and look at them. It’s so important what he said. One of the things that really struck out to me was these actors that he got in this production were actors he had worked with before. I keep coming back to this and I keep saying go do some short films because it will get experience. I can’t emphasize that enough, is that everybody wants to take these monstrous steps forward. They wanna go from obscurity to the top of the screen writing pyramid. And well, that may happen for some people and congratulations to you if you’re one of those people.
I think you will find that the vast majority of people, they have any level of success, it’s a slow and more gradual process. I think Lanre is a great example of this. Look him up on IMDB. He did a bunch of shots, he got involved with this film collective in his local area in New York and built a little group around that actors and other filmmakers and slowly has worked his way up and now he’s got two features under his belt. That’s just such a great tempo, there’s no magic. There’s nothing that….nobody just came to him and just handed him anything. There was no luck in anything that he’s done. He’s just slowly progressed, slowly his films have gotten bigger and bigger and I can only imagine that over the course of the coming months and years, he will continue. Each one of these films will continue, get a little bit better, a little bit bigger. The budgets will get bigger, he’ll start to have bigger actors in it, and I just think that’s a great tempo to look at.
It’s not the sexy tempo, like we all wanna look at the Cody Diablos. She’s in obscurity, writing for a blog in Minnesota and a producer reads her blog and plucks her out and next thing you know she wins an Academy Award. That’s a great story and again, congratulations to her. But I don’t know that there’s a lot of lessons for us to learn from that. I think she’s a talented writer, she’s got a great point of view, there’s certainly a lot of things…she had to have a lot of things going for her for that to work for her. And again, look at someone like Lanre, listening to him tell his story, I don’t see a ton of luck. I don’t see a ton of just things that you and I couldn’t do. He’s just slowly networking, he’s slowly making connections, he’s building relationships, he’s building friendships. I’m sure he’s friends with a lot of these people and I think that’s great. Again, I think that’s something for all of us to look at.
Just slowly, one step at a time move your career forward. The other thing that I thought was so important was the way he was describing the kick starter campaign. It’s so true, you can’t get caught up on…and not just the kick starter but the production in general, I think he was referring to. He said something to effect of, you can’t get…it will drive you crazy if you just get too worried about who’s contributing what and who’s doing what. And that’s so true. Film is such a collaborative process. At the end of the day. And this is why I’m so high on short films. It’s why I think you need to go and do a short film. Produce it, write it, maybe direct it too or maybe you will hire a director, but go through that process. Every film needs that one sort of winch pin person that gonna basically just put it on their shoulders and carry it to the finish line. For me that’s The Pinch. I mean, I did most of the work and certainly it fell on me to get it across the finish line. I raised most of the money, I just did most of the actual physical work, obviously wrote the script, directed it, produced it.
But there were so many other people that helped. There’re other producers, all the actors, all the crew. I mean, so many people came in and helped and I totally get what he’s saying. You can’t get too hung up on “This person did this and didn’t do that.” It’s like everybody’s coming together and everyone’s contributing what they can. The fact of the matter is Lanre at the end of the day, he’s gonna be the one that gets the most credit for this and it’s gonna help his career the most. So, yes he did the most work. He will potentially benefit the most for that. I would keep that in mind. And the same thing with The Pinch, at the end of the day, I’m gonna be the one…if it’s even half way successful I’ll be the one that reaps the most of the benefits because again, I’m the one who’s put the moves into it, and has the most invested into it.
But it’s a really great attitude and it’s what you have to have to get through this, because if you start getting into these situations where it’s a tit for tat kind of a back and forth, “Oh you didn’t do this, and I did this.” It will just drive you crazy and you’re gonna spend all your time doing that, worrying about what other people are doing instead of just worrying about putting your energy and your creativity into the project. Again, that’s another thing that I really would have listened and think about, in going to these things. That’s again why I think it’s so important to do a short film, because even a three minute short film, you will go through all of the different stages of filmmaking and you will see all of the different steps. I can pretty much guarantee you, if you go and you write and you direct, and you produce a three minute short film, you will be a better writer. It will help your writing.
Again, there’s no reason not to do this in this day and age. Not to be out there doing your own stuff. At least to some degree, again I’m not saying every writer has to be a producer or a director or a writer director. Some people do just wanna write, but doing some producing really will enhance your writing and really will make you a better writer, a stronger writer. It will make you a writer that appreciates producers more, which will make you more attractive to producers. All of these sort of subtle things will add up and hopefully help you along in your career. Anyway, that’s the show, thank you for listening.