This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 345: With Writer/Director Kyle Couch.
Ashley: Welcome to Episode #345 of the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing writer-director Kyle Couch. He wrote and directed a film called The Tent, which is a post-apocalyptic thriller. He’s done a lot of shorts to get to this point where he’s now directing his first feature film. We talk a bit about the shorts and then we dig into The Tent and how he brought that picture to life. So stay tuned for that interview. If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes or leaving me a comment on YouTube or retweeting the podcast on Twitter or liking or sharing it on Facebook.
These social media shares really do help spread word about the podcast, so they’re very much appreciated. Any websites or links that I mention in the podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast, and then just look for Episode Number #345. If you want my free guide-How To Sell a Screenplay in Five Weeks, you can pick that up by going to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free, you 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 a screenplay in that guide. I’ll teach you how to write a professional logline and query letter and how to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for material. Really, it’s everything you need to know to sell your screenplay. Just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. So a few words about what I’m working on, still plugging away on my mystery thriller feature film, The Rideshare Killer. I just got another cut of the film back from the editor. We’re getting very, very close to locked picture, maybe one or two sort of very small passes, we should get to locked picture. It’s coming together nicely. I’ve been interviewing colorists and sound folks trying to find the right people.
Really it comes down to a lot with scheduling. A lot of the people… I probably put the ad a little too early out. I started getting resumes a little too early, because some of the people I’ve contacted, they already have other projects. So this is always sort of the difficulty with low budget projects, is you don’t really get precedent because you’re… or preferential treatment, because you’re typically paying less than what a lot of these guys make on other projects. Anyways, just going through, I’m getting resumes and just going through, and I basically need to bring that altogether. Tony, my producing partner on this film has been working on the contracts and also he’s been working with the composer to get her hired.
I think we’re very close on that, but hopefully here in the next couple of weeks or next month or so we’ll get to locked picture, and by that time we’ll have all of these other positions filled. I’m going through this cut now trying to decide if it’s worth doing reshoots or not. There’s definitely some shots I’d like to get, but with COVID and everything, I just have to weigh the cost and the benefits of this. We did budget a little bit of money to do like a day of reshoots. There’s definitely some things I wanna do, but I’ve just gotta sort of think about the logistics and if it’s really gonna be worth the effort. I’m starting to think about festivals. That was something I just was mulling over and I’m not really sure if we’re gonna submit this to any festivals in the current state with COVID.
I mean, all you’re really gonna get out of the festivals with COVID is some digital whirls. You get accepted, maybe you’ll win some awards. And I guess that’s nice, but a big part of the festivals certainly living here in LA, the LA festivals that I would submit to, would be nice to actually go the cast and crew could come out, see the film, obviously with COVID none of that’s happening. I’m gonna probably punt on that and kinda wait and see, probably won’t. We’re hoping to get the film done by the end of the year, and maybe I’ll have a little more beat on where I think COVID is heading. Certainly if we get to the point where we have a real viable vaccine, let’s say by March then I think that the festivals would be back up and running, and I think I’ll probably go and submit to some, but if it gets too much later, I’ll probably just go straight to the distributors.
I mean, if COVID continues to persist, I’ll probably just go straight to the distributors and not even do the festivals, but we gotta figure that out. Anyway, mainly I’m just going through this latest cut and making notes on the final little things that need to be tweaked. Again, this point we’re dealing with kinda minor things and just cleaning up some of the problem areas. A lot of the action scenes, some of the action stuff just needs a little bit of tweak to just make it seem a little more realistic, but we’re in pretty good shape. Anyways, that’s the main thing I’ve been working on over the last few weeks. So now let’s get into the main segment. Today I am interviewing writer-director, Kyle Couch. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Kyle to the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Kyle: Yeah, I appreciate you having me. It’s my pleasure.
Ashley: So to start out, maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Kyle: So I got started probably I would say in my early twenties making short films and just kind of progressing from making short films into 50-minute films, then once I did that, I felt ready to do feature films. So really that’s… I just started meeting people and I met people who had similar interests as far as just progressing their career further and really it really took off for me when I met Tim Kaiser who actually plays David in the film. He is a man that wears many hats and between him and Nancy Lynette Parker, our executive producer, those two I’ve been working with probably since 2015 and they really helped kinda cultivate that.
Ashley: Perfect. We’re gonna jump back into that and I would like to hear sort of your story on how you met them. But first let’s talk about some of the shorts you’ve done. I’m curious, how did you get these shorts made? Did you just self-fund them, did you have some sort of technical background in running a camera, editing? Just how did you have sort of the wherewithal to start doing shorts?
Kyle: Yeah, I mean, a lot of that came from just self-learning. I did go to college very briefly. I ended up getting an Associate’s degree in Cinematic Arts. That’s where I learned a lot about kind of story structure and script writing and what have you. So really once I got out of there I realized I didn’t really have any too much onset training and so I just kind of started making stuff and making mistakes and having to kinda go back and redo things. So with the short films, it was self-funded most of the time up until probably I would say roughly five years ago, they were all self-funded. I think the most I had spent up to that point on a short film was probably about 500 bucks, and most of that goes towards food.
Then the technical aspect, I just, yeah, again, a lot of that was teaching myself and occasionally having a mentor come alongside of me and teach me kind of the do’s and don’ts, but a lot of it was very much self-taught.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So one of the things that I definitely get a lot from screenwriters is just how do you have the confidence? I mean, why were you able to just go out and start making shorts? Was there some… like, didn’t you have these feelings like, “Well, how am I gonna figure out how to run a camera? How am I gonna figure out how to edit?” I feel like a lot of people just get bogged down in sort of those fears. How did you overcome that and how did you just get out there and do that first short with really no money and no experience?
Kyle: Yeah. I mean, that’s a really great question. Looking back in retrospect, for me, a lot of it was just, I’ve always wanted to be a filmmaker, so I knew I would have to figure it out and you have to start somewhere. I didn’t know what I was doing when I first started and I’m still learning now. Certainly, I’m not like saying back then I didn’t know what I was doing and now I’m a master or anything. I’m still very much earning and I will until the day I die. But I think a lot of it was just starting somewhere, writing 10 pages of a script, not a very good one, and then just going out and shooting it. And finding a camera or saying, “Hey, do you have a camera, could I borrow a camera?”
I mean, now it’s a little easier, because everybody’s got a camera on their phone, but back then, it wasn’t quite as widespread. So yeah, for me it was definitely just starting somewhere and grabbing a camera, going out, getting a few friends who were willing to act, and then using like Windows Movie Maker or something like that to edit the footage and that’s really editing the footage is when I realized what goes into making a film. And so that it was just kinda grabbing the bull by the horns in a way and just going out and starting.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. So let’s dig into your latest film, The Tent. Maybe to start out you can give us a quick logline or pitch. What is this film all about?
Kyle: Yeah, so The Tent is really about two people who come together at the end of the world. They are surviving the night and they come together at the end of the world and they have to survive the night together and they’ve chosen the destination of surviving in a tent. And so through that process, they learn that each other have different ways to survive. So they really have to figure that out and figure out how to make it work between the two of them, so that way they can survive the night.
Ashley: Got you. Where did this idea come from? What was the genesis for this story?
Kyle: The genesis really kinda came from… I had a dream, I had a very vivid nightmare and that kind of inspired the initial engine to do something that was a little bit more, I guess, I wouldn’t even categorize it as a horror type genre. I would categorize it more of a kind of a drama, hard-hitting drama with some thriller elements to it. And so for me I had never tried my hand at that. That’s kind of where it began with having this very vivid nightmare and then it just kinda progressed into like, okay, if you’re gonna take this idea or this dream and make it into a film, what is the heart of it gonna be? Then honestly I just dug into my past and some of the things that I’ve never really seen…
I’ve seen represented, but I haven’t seen represented in the way that I wanted to see it, and kinda plugged that into this kind of housing, if you will, of this nightmare that I had.
Ashley: Got you. Okay. So let’s talk about your writing process. You had this dream, you started to think about it, then what are those steps to actually making it into a screenplay? Are you someone who does index cards, do you spend a lot of time outlining? And then how much time do you spend outlining, and then how much time do you spend actually in final draft, cranking out script pages?
Kyle: Yeah. So I actually use Celtics. I don’t use final draft but I definitely, I love final draft. I think it’s great. I just, I don’t know. It’s kinda of one of those things where I’m like, I’ve always used Celtics, so it’s…
Ashley: I’ve heard good things about Celtics.
Kyle: Yeah. I enjoy it a lot, but I think for me it’s coming up with an outline first. I’ve tried it the other way where I don’t have an outline and… not with The Tent. By then I was mainly doing outlines, but before that I just didn’t do outlines, I would just write it. For a short film, maybe that works because it’s so short, but with something that’s long and you’re going in a bunch of different directions, I couldn’t have done it without an outline. So I looked up a bunch of different ways and first I tried doing kinda eight plot points, kind of studying Sid Field and all those different ways of telling a story that are tried and true. And then for me, I just found this kind of 40-point thing where you can… you put your 40 plot points down. And it was intense, but it really kinda helped me to see what, where the movie was going and when it was [inaudible 00:12:40] in that direction.
So I really just kind of wrote down pretty much everything that I knew about it, and then I drew up a few timelines for things that didn’t even end up making it in the movie. Just where were the characters before and where did they end up afterward and what were some of their backstories? Those are super helpful for directing the actors, kinda telling them where they came from and their motivations. And then I sat down and I wrote the script and I wrote it and I wrote it and I wrote it and wrote it. I must’ve written it probably about 10 times. Now that’s not 10 complete rewrites for me, that was writing the first draft and then going into that first draft and kind of editing it and then going into it and re-editing it about 10 times and really kind of smoothing out the edges and it’s definitely…
We shot the movie back in ’17, so like even now I look back and I’m like, “Oh man, I could have… I wish I would’ve rewrote it a few more times.” I think that’s how obsessive you can get with this rewriting it and recrafting it. So for me, it was, I think I ended up giving the actors draft 10 and I was like, “Alright, here it is,” and they’re like, “Okay, cool.”
Ashley: Got you. Are you one of the people that works in their home office? Do you go to Starbucks, do you need that background noise? What does your sort of writing routine look like?
Kyle: Yeah. I couldn’t do a public place. For me usually I turn on some instrumental music and depending on the vibe of the scene and, or I just make a playlist that I know the direction that it’s gonna go in, and then I just sit in a room by myself, home office and just write and write, write, write.
Ashley: What do you… I hear about these playlists that people make, what do you use to make a playlist?
Kyle: Oh, I use Spotify. Yeah. It’s really helpful.
Ashley: Let’s talk about your development process a little bit. So you crank out this first draft, what did it look like terms of getting notes? Do you have a bunch of trusted actor, writer, director, friends that you send it to? How does that process look again? How do you interpret people’s notes that come back to you?
Kyle: Yeah, I do have very trusted… the thing is, is that I’ll have somebody who’s a writer take a look at it who also writes screenplays. That’s kind of my go-to, is for someone like that to take a look at it and kinda read through it and then tell me like the issues that they had with it. And we kinda sit down, maybe even talk for a couple hours about those issues. Then I go back and I rewrite it and then I give it to them again. We kinda go through that process over and over until it’s like either we don’t agree on something and I feel very strongly about it or it’s kind of like, I can’t get past this hump and I have to go back and rewrite the whole thing. I also have just regular people who enjoy reading.
I think that to me is one of the most important, because that is… you know, when you take somebody who has no experience with a screenplay per se, or they’re just an audience, they’re just somebody who watches movies, who reads books and they go, “That was entertaining,” or, “It kinda lost my interest.” So I have a few people, quite a few people actually that I let check out that’s kind of from an audience standpoint. And then usually the last people that get it are the actors. And for me, I’m not at a point where everything that I write has to be, is sacred, right? So even on set, I’m not married hundred percent to the dialogue. If people, as long as we go in the right direction, I don’t mind if they are feeling something different and they wanna change up how the language sounds or… which often happens.
So, yeah, for me, it’s more important once we get to that point on set that the actors can identify with the characters instead of me making sure that the dialogue comes out and it’s a hundred percent on book.
Ashley: Yeah. Got you. So you mentioned just a second ago that you had this 40 beat outlined. Is that from Blake Snyder? And I’m curious what I’m sort of getting at is what is your approach to screenplay structure? You also mentioned Sid Field who’s obviously real big on the three-act structure. What is your approach to screenplay structure? And then specifically with a sort of post-apocalyptic horror, thriller like this, was there some sort of genre requirements or other films that you looked at, how do you use those tropes from other films and maybe subvert those tropes a little bit?
Kyle: Yeah. So that’s a big question.
Ashley: Got you. Yeah, it is.
Kyle: [laughs] I think I’ll try to sum it up. You remind me if I miss something, but… I think the first question you had asked is that 40-point plot point? I’m not sure who wrote it. I had found it and I just kinda bookmarked it. I found numerous things, from 40 points down to like just three, and or usually five. Sid Field was probably the first author that I read an entire book of his on screenplay writing. And so yeah, he’s super huge on the three-act structure. I think there’s some validity to that a hundred percent. I mean, I do think that the whole idea and my kind of approach to it and again, I’m still learning, but my approach to it so far has really been just finding those moments to kinda slow it down and allow exposition to come through in subtle ways.
Of course as cliché as it sounds, what the characters aren’t saying is just as important as what they are saying. So really I think dialogue I’m still really like trying to fine tune that for myself. But I usually know ahead of time kinda what the ending’s gonna be. I do think that that’s really important. You need to know where is this all going? What is the ultimate, say, message at the end or what is the thing you wanna leave the audience with? And then [inaudible 00:19:23] I think the intro is just as important because again, you’re gonna lose your audience if you don’t have a powerful intro or something that intrigues somebody to keep watching. And so really like what’s between the intro and the ending, where that third act is.
There’s a really big piece of exposition and kind of getting there and twists and turns and finding ways to challenge the characters in a way that maybe they never have before. So that to me is the biggest challenge. So that is where a lot of my time is spent, in trying to figure out… and that’s where that 40-plot point kinda came in handy because it’s… I know my beginning and I know my ending, but it’s, how do I get there? How do I get to that third act that I daydream about all day? I don’t know if that answered your question.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, no, I think it did. So let’s talk about, so now you have a script, you’ve rewritten it 10 times, you’re starting to move it, when did you bring Tim into this process? It sounds like you’ve known him since before this project was written. Were you keeping him… were you pitching it to him before? Was he involved with the development? Maybe talk about that a little bit.
Kyle: Tim was involved from the get go, so he knew I was about to start writing it with him in mind as the lead. I knew I wanted him to push him in a direction that I had never seen him act before, and I knew that this was the story to do that. I knew I wanted to make this movie and I knew I wanted on a different level to push Tim as an actor to go even further than I had seen him go and this just felt like a perfect marriage of the two. So he really knew about it. Like he got to… Tim was a different story than most actors. He got to read almost every iteration. Once we got to that final draft or the second to final draft and Tim says… I’m sorry, it was like probably the third draft in and Tim is reading and he goes, “You know…”
And I’m, again, I don’t wanna give anything away, but he’s like, “I really think that this would be interesting if towards the third act we went in this kind of different direction.” And we were always going in that direction, but he was like, “Let’s hit it hard. Like let’s not just kinda touch on it. Let’s hit it hard.” And I was like, “Absolutely not. Thanks for the advice, thanks for the critique, but I’m gonna move on.” He was like, “Alright, that’s fine.” We have a good relationship like that. Then that night I sat down and I was like, “I wonder what that’s like. I’m just gonna write it. I’m just gonna dip my hand in the cookie jar and see what it feels like,” and I couldn’t stop writing for probably about an hour and a half.
I wrote probably the last 30 pages of the script within an hour and a half. It just was flowing out of me. I was like, “Oh my gosh, is this something different, and is this the direction we’re gonna go in?” Then I sent that initial draft to Tim and he was like, “Dude, I’m balling my eyes out in this hotel room. This is fantastic.” And so then of course once we decided to go in that direction, I kind of backtracked and started making changes throughout to kind of have bread crumbs that led in that direction. It’s kinda hard to talk about because…
Ashley: Yeah. No, I gotcha. Yeah. So let’s back up a little bit. How did you meet… and it sounds like Nancy, your executive producer, how did you meet Tim and Nancy? Maybe talk about that introduction, because I know that’s gonna be a question, “Well, how can you meet guys like these talented people that wanna come along and partner with you?”
Kyle: It’s funny that it’s happenstance. I mean, I met… I was already kind of producing videos and what have you and then Tim, he was actually doing like a summer Bible camp for his church and they were volunteering at my church and a mutual friend of ours said, “Hey, I know this guy and he’s acted in movies before. I don’t know if you’d be interested.” I said, “Yeah, absolutely.” So I meet this guy and I’m like, “Okay, this guy’s a really nice guy, like cool.” And he says to me, we kinda started conversating, “What projects have you worked on?” “Oh, I’ve worked on this, and I’ve… well, I’ve mainly done independent, short films for myself,” and he goes, “Well check out this trailer of mine.” And then he showed it to me.
In the movie that he showed me, he played a bad guy and kind of this slimy, greasy… And I’m like staring at him at him and I’m staring and staring at this trailer and I’m like, “You are not the same person.” He didn’t have a beard. He looked exactly the same, but his whole… and I’m like, “Wow, I’m very impressed.” Then one thing led to another, you know, nothing ever happened and I gave him a call and I said, “Hey, I have this perfect role for you, it’s an older guy. Would you be interested?” He said, “Absolutely.” And that’s really it. Ever since then we’ve been working together. And Nancy is a little bit different story. She came on when I shot a 50-minute short film for a nonprofit. Basically it was kind of a fundraiser type scenario.
We made this short film and we hired a whole crew and I directed it. The whole idea was to premiere this in a movie theater to raise money for that nonprofit. It was about addiction and recovery and stuff like that, so we needed somebody that could get us actors. And just again, it was just somebody knowing somebody. I think we just started putting things out on Craigslist, like actors needed for a movie, low pay, or something, I don’t know. Then somebody connected us with Nancy and she was like, “Hey, I’m an actress but I also produce. She ended up executive producing that short film and again, just like with Tim, the rest was history. So it was just kind of, there was no special recipe.
We just kind of put ourselves out there and said, “Hey, listen, we’re just trying to figure this thing out. We don’t really know what we’re doing, but we’re trying to figure it out,” and then these people were like, “Great. We’ll come and help you out.” And they saw that we had some significant financial backing with some of our projects and they saw that we were serious about it, maybe we weren’t as skilled as some of the people they had worked with, but they could sense that we had heart, we were serious. And really those two people, Tim and Nancy I equate a lot of my success in continuing to make films with, because they have always believed in me. And that, I think more important than finding somebody who’s connected in the business is finding somebody who believes in you.
Because there will be times when you do not believe in yourself. There are many moments like that in my path, where I’m like, “Ugh, this isn’t gonna work,” or whatever and they’re like, “So what? Even if it doesn’t work, keep going, keep pushing, you’re gonna get better.” And I have. I’ve significantly seen that. So yeah, I would say bigger than connections is finding people that will walk alongside of you and continue to be cheerleaders for you.
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. For sure. Great advice. Where are you located and where did you shoot The Tent?
Kyle: I’m located probably about 30 minutes outside of Detroit. I’m actually located in Pontiac, Michigan. We shot most of The Tent in and around Michigan. The actual kind of out in the woods shoot was in Ray Township and then actually inside The Tent was all on a stage. Our amazing cinematographer, Robert Skates, lit it in such a way that transition was flawless. Watching the film, I remember being that was one of my worry points was, “Oh, man, people are gonna be able to tell this is on a stage and this is outside. And for me, I don’t know, maybe other people can tell, but for me, I was like, “Wow, that’s flawless.” Like between him and David Peterson who was the editor, I thought they sold the idea that this was all in the same spot.
Ashley: Great. One of the questions that I get very often from screenwriters is, “Do I need to move to LA?” What is your take as someone who’s not in Hollywood, not in sort of the LA scene, making films outside of LA? Why haven’t you moved to LA and what’s sort of, just your thinking in general on this topic?
Kyle: You know, I think when I was younger, moving out to LA was like, sounded like a great idea because that is where the business is. That’s where… it’s kinda like for me in Michigan and Detroit primarily the big business is cars, kind of, but it is in a way. Detroit is known for its motor city. LA, when I’ve gone out to LA it’s like there are movie making machine factories everywhere. So there’s posters everywhere and just movies, movies, movies, TV shows, media, everything. And so, yeah, I mean, I feel like if you wanna… back in the eighties, if you wanted to get in the auto industry you would come to Detroit, right? Why not? But I think if you wanna make movies and stuff, it does make sense to a degree to move out to LA.
I think the challenge is, and as people will come to find out, it’s it wouldn’t have probably continued if it wasn’t for them. Because I had that moral support, I had that emotional support. And not just their expertise in their craft, because trust me, that’s there for sure with both of them, but it was just the emotional support that they offered. Skipping town or leaving town and going out to LA and kind of maybe being alone for a little while, it is challenging and it’s tough. You’re gonna hear things. If you wanna be an actor and you’re auditioning you’re gonna hear things that you don’t like to hear. If you’re writing scripts and doing all that stuff out there, you’re gonna hear things that you don’t like to hear.
As long as you have a strong support network, I think it’s okay. But that I think is for me the biggest challenge. I don’t have as strong a support network out in LA as I do here in Michigan. And now after starting a family and all that stuff, I don’t wanna, I have no interest in… I love visiting LA, I think it’s great, but moving out there unless a big job happened out there, I honestly, I would be perfectly content with making movies in Michigan.
Ashley: Got you. So you have your script, you have your team, what was your strategy for raising money for this project?
Kyle: The biggest strategy was this was my feature film debut, and so kind of it was less about, “Hey, invest in this thing and we’re gonna get all your money back and all that stuff. I mean, that certainly plays a part, I think, with any business, but it was more about kind of helping to support that next step that I was taking as a filmmaker. And so in the beginning, when you’ve never made a feature film before it is pretty challenging to say, well, “Hey, look at this example.” There’s no example to show. There’s just short films and what have you, but it’s a different ball game with features. And so really it was friends and family that I was coming around and saying, “Hey…” And it’s funny because unfortunately they, most friends and family didn’t have enough money to even give away at the time.
So it was sitting down, I had a friend of mine, a mentor who was just very good with business, owns a few businesses himself, and basically he helped me to write a business plan. What is this gonna look like? How long are you gonna shoot for? If you can’t necessarily promise everybody their money back, what can you promise them? What can you give them? Just sitting down and really figuring that out. And then just, it was almost as, not nearly as long, but almost as challenging as writing the script itself was sitting down and figuring out, “Okay, if I raise this amount of money, I can shoot for this many days. If I raise this amount of money, I can shoot for this many more days and I can bring on this many more crew members.”
What we ended up was a very solid amount. And then, again, investing your own money. If you’re not gonna invest anything in it, then why would somebody else? So it’s just a constant process of coming up with a business model, coming up with an idea to bring people in on a feature debut and really talking to them and discussing what this is gonna look like moving forward. Not necessarily with the film but in a career point. It’s crazy, people get really, really excited to invest in a career in chasing after something that is almost as unattainable as making films. I know personally when… I’ve actually recently had somebody come up to me and say, “I can’t get funding for anything.”
I said, “Listen, you put in the work and you show me a solid plan and I see through that viewing of that solid plan that there’s heart there, and there’s a determination, easily, I would come up off a thousand bucks, 2000 bucks to give you towards that goal. Easily.” It’s really about seeing the work and the dedication that somebody is putting into it. That’s what my friend had taught me when I was creating this business model. You can sense confidence and you can also sense not so much confidence. And sometimes you gotta fake it till you make it, even if you don’t know, you’re like, “Aah, we’ll see how this turns out.” You certainly don’t wanna do that in front of somebody.
Ashley: You were talking with the guy doing your business plan. You mentioned that one of your angles is simply having people invest in you so that your career can go forward. That certainly works with friends and family. But were there some other things that you came up with that you could offer to these investors that would be potentially enticing for them to invest in not just ROI and not just investing in your career?
Kyle: Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, I think the biggest thing is just saying, “Hey, listen I have a lot of confidence in the script and I have a lot of confidence in this film and my ability to hire people that will also help back me up and make a good film.” So it’s really about offering percentages. If you have, basically, I had nothing to offer right off the gate except for my own money into the film itself. And so it’s a lot of like being honest and saying like, “Hey listen, it’s a gamble.” I think that honesty really goes a long way. You don’t wanna sit there and be like, “Oh man, I’m gonna get you back $10,000 that you’re investing or $20,000 that you’re investing and I’ll get it back to you in six months.”
Well, you can’t promise that. You really can’t. I think it’s very important to be honest and upfront and say, “Hey, listen, you may or may not get the…” And that’s kind of what I was providing, was just, hey, in honesty, and if after I’m honest with you, you don’t wanna come on, that’s okay. But really it was… I wish I could tell you that there were other things that I was offering, but I really do feel like a lot of it was the heart and it was not thanks to me, it was thanks to the person who taught me the business planning but offering that heart to people and them feeling it. And yeah, that was really my one and only, or it was just gonna be a lot longer road to get there.
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. Passion can be contagious. What is next for you? What are you working on now?
Kyle: Right now I’m writing another script, so I actually just started physically writing it. I’m kind of at a point where when I get ideas, I just write them all down and I put them into a Google document. That way you can open it up anywhere and add to it anytime I want from my phone or from my desk at work, and then just constructing. So this time it was like 10 outlines as opposed to 10 different versions of the script. It’s just continuing to learn to kind of start that process back a little further. So now I’m finally at the point where I’m writing the script and it’s very exciting and it’s kind of a psychological type movie, but it’s a lot more grounded than The Tent is.
Ashley: Got you. What have you… I just like to close the interview by asking just what have you seen recently that you thought was really great? Is there anything on Netflix, Hulu, anything out there that maybe would be good for screenwriters to check out?
Kyle: Oh, I’d have to reference. There’s two things that I watched, probably the two best TV shows possibly I’ve ever seen in my life. The first one was Mr. Robot. I kinda got laid on that train of watching Mr. Robot and that last season, I think it’s four seasons, every single episode almost feels like a different genre of a movie, and I just felt like… There’s literally an episode where it’s, there’s no talking. I think there’s like one word said at the end and then the rest of it is just action and movement and camera angles. It was just so like, I’m like, “What does that script look like?” Is that just, there’s no, there’s literally no dialogue, but… And then there’s same season, there’s an episode that is almost all dialogue.
Two people sitting on a couch and there’s revelations made and everything. I just thought that show was a spectacular. I would say probably my favorite piece of entertainment or media that I consumed in 2019 was The Watchmen series from Damon Lindelof. That to me was easily the best 10 episodes, or I think it was 10 episodes of TV that I’ve possibly ever seen. It’s just the writing was so crisp and so real and yet it’s The Watchmen, so it’s like superheroes and stuff. But it was, oh my gosh, that was phenomenal. That was the type of show gets me excited about working in this medium. I cannot recommend it more. It’s so good.
Ashley: I’ll have to check that one out. How can people see The Tent? What is the release schedule gonna be like on that?
Kyle: So The Tent is actually out now. It’s available on Amazon, it’s available on preorder at Target on physical DVD or Blu-Ray, it’s available on iTunes and Google Play and Vimeo, I think it’s Vimeo On Demand, and then YouTube as well. So you can get it, I mean, almost I think anywhere. And then we have our social media page @thetentmovie movie both on Facebook and Instagram and then our website, it’s got a lot of cool little Easter eggs at www.survivethetent.com.
Ashley: Nice, nice, perfect. What’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing? Twitter, Facebook, a blog, anything you’re comfortable sharing I’ll round up for the show notes?
Kyle: Yeah. I don’t have Facebook or Instagram at the moment. I had one and then I kinda backed out of it. But you can find me on LinkedIn and I love just hooking up with people and making connections and looking for opportunities to work with people. I think it’s great. I love networking. It’s the best thing you can do.
Ashley: Perfect. Perfect. Well, I really appreciate your coming on the show with me today. Good luck with this film and good luck with all your future films as well.
Kyle: All right. Well, thank you so much for having me. It’s definitely, I appreciate talking about this movie. It means a lot to me.
Ashley: Yeah, no problem at all. Good luck with it.
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On the next episode of the podcast, I’m gonna be interviewing writer-director Christian Sesma, who was on the podcast a couple of years ago in Episode Number #134. So check out that episode if you have the time and wanna hear a bit about his background. He’s done a number of films. I had him on, as I said a couple of years ago, and now he is back with another film. Next week, we’ll be talking about this new film, it’s called Pay Dirt starring Val Kilmer and Luke Goss. We talk about the writing of this film, casting it and how it all came together for Christian. So keep an eye out for that episode next week. That’s our show. Thank you for listening.