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Making Movies is HARD!!! Posts

Episode 136 – Gordy Hoffman – A Screenwriter’s Journey and How Screenwriting Competitions Work

Join us for this inspiring conversation with Gordy Hoffman about how screenplay competitions work and why you should never give up. If you want to make films, Gordy says don’t wait, “do your dream today!”

Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device (or wherever else you find your podcasts).

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Who is Gordy Hoffman?

Gordy started the BlueCat Screenplay Competition 20 years ago, but that’s not the whole story. Gordy himself is a screenwriter and his career started in 2002 with a film called “Love Liza” that starred his younger brother Philip Seymour Hoffman. Love Liza played Sundance in 2002 and won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.

Since then, Gordy has ventured into directing, most recently with a short film Dog Bowl (Available to watch on Amazon Prime) which played at 2015 Sundance and that led to a gig at Annapurna. Gordy also teaches screenwriting at USC.

How Screenplay Competitions Work

Gordy runs the BlueCat Screenplay Competition, so we ask him a bunch of questions about how screenplay competitions works.
How are Screenwriting Competitions Judged?
Is that judging fair?
Does Gordy worry that a good script might slip through the cracks?
 What are some reasons you should enter screenwriting competitions?
  • They give writers deadlines, which is always a good thing
  • They give writers validation that they are on the right track
  • They can further your career
  • But mostly they can give you inspiration and a reason to keep going

How Gordy Became a Screenwriter and Director

Gordy recaps his career from Love Liza to his current short. In looking at Gordy’s career, he’s found a way to keep going, but at 53, does he ever think about quitting? When is it too late to pursue your dreams?
We dive deep into the despair every writer feels and why it’s important to push through it. Screenwriting is a solo venture and there are some traps we can all fall into, Gordy has some advice on how to avoid them.
Some Questions We Ask Gordy
  • How did you get started as a writer?
  • After “Love Liza” came out, to it make it easier to get work as a writer?
  • There’s a big gap on your IMDB page, what were you doing between your films?
  • For your second film, Dog Bowl, how did you make the leap from writing to writing and directing?
  • What challenges have you been facing as a writer/director?

Contact Gordy

February 20th is the final deadline to enter your screenplay and short films to the BlueCat Screenplay Competition The BlueCat Website is also a place to contact Gordy if you want to reach out to him.
Also, check out his films. Here are links to Love Liza and Dog Bowl.

This Episode Sponsored by Film Casualty

Film Casualty streamlines the insurance process for filmmakers just like you, helping provide coverage and support so you can focus on your project. There is insurance for almost everything and a lot of it isn’t relevant to what you do but Film Casualty will guide you to get only what you need at the most affordable price. Be sure to visit Film Casualty www.filmcasualty.com

A HUGE THANKS to Film Casualty for sponsoring the podcast!

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Episode 135 – Directing Commercials in LA and Casting Known Actors with Paul Schneider!

This week we have commercial director Paul Schneider on the show to talk about making a living as a director, making the transition from commercials to narrative and how he casted two known actors in his short film, Fifty Minutes.

Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device (or wherever else you find your podcasts).

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Who is Paul Schneider?

Paul is the director of film and television and can usually be found working in LA… and sometimes the world.

He got his start working in Chicago and now lives in Los Angeles, directing commercials all over the country.

Having directed commercials for over 12 years, Paul is now moving into narrative film and television directing and his short film Fifty Minutes, starring Stephen Tobolowsky and DJ Qualls is his first entry into that world.

Commercial Directing

Paul talks to us about his commercial career, how he got started and what kind of work he does.

  • How Paul was able to evolve as a director.
  • Spec commercials, what’s your approach?
  • Making the transition from commercials to narrative work.

Paul’s Spec, Breath

Fifty Minutes

Paul talks about how Fifty Minutes came about, his approach and how he got these two big actors to be in a no budget short film.

  • Finding the story of Fifty Minutes.
  • How Paul got Stephen Tobolowsky to sign onto the film.
  • How Paul then was able to get DJ Qualls attached.
  • What has happened since the short has been made and released?

 Contacting Paul

Commercial Work: http://concreteandclay.com/director/paul-schneider/

Vimeo Page: https://vimeo.com/paulschneiderfilms

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lettershome

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/paulschneiderfilms/

If you want all the nitty gritty on the making of Fifty Minutes, directors notes did a really nice write up on the movie, check it out at this link!

Make Money with Your Footage!

Dissolve is a sponsor of our podcast and they invite all you filmmakers to apply to become a contributor to their stock footage library. For every clip they license, you get paid. Apply now: https://dissolve.com/apply
 
Exceptional stock footage for commercials and films. Hand-picked for style, relevance, and technical excellence from renowned talents and exclusive contributors around the world. Search from over 1 million clips that elevate your concepts – and help you tell better stories.

Contact Us

Thanks for joining us. Have more to say, or a question? Here’s how you can contact us.

Episode 134 – New Year Special with Andrew Schrader, Arielle Zakowski & Evan Kidd

We talk to more past guests this week about what they’ve been up to since we last talked. This week we chat with Andrew Schrader, Arielle Zakowski and Evan Kidd. This is an extra long one to keep you company during your travels. Happy New Year everyone!

Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device (or wherever else you find your podcasts).

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Andrew Schrader

Since we last talked, Andrew has moved to Los Angeles and has also gotten a book published. Find Andrew’s book “What Goes On In the Wall At Night” on Amazon or download it for free on his website!!!

Andrew talks to us about living in Los Angeles, writing and pursuing a career as a full time filmmaker.

Here’s a Link to Andrew’s Book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/What-Goes-Walls-At-Night/dp/0692847073

Andrew’s Website: http://www.andrewjschrader.com/

Episode 20 – Sustainable Ideas with Andrew Schrader

Arielle Zakowski

Last time we talked to Arielle (way back in Episode 66) she had just started a full time position as an editor.

Episode 66 – Editor Arielle Zakowski

After quickly moving through the ranks of assistant editor into a lead editor role, Arielle was excited to tackle new opportunities. And she did.

  • She tells us about editing for Chef’s Table
  • The ins and outs of balancing commercial work with passion work
  • And the power of saying yes!

If you want to learn more about Arielle, visit these websites

Her Website: http://ariellezakowski.com/

Arielle’s Commercial Reel: http://www.workeditorial.tv/editors/arielle-zakowski

 

Evan Kidd

Evan Kidd joined us back in Episode 45 to talk to us about producing a very cheap movie. Now he’s back to tell us how he produced an even cheaper TV show that’s now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Episode 45 – How Evan Kidd made a $3,000 Feature Film in North Carolina

Evan’s $3,000 film “Son Of Clowns”: https://www.amazon.com/Son-Clowns-Adam-Ferguson/dp/B01MCQCMRY

Evan’s $200 TV Series “Home Remedy”: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077MZRHD4

And be sure to check out Evan’s Website: https://rocksetproductions.com/

Contact Us

Thanks for joining us. Have more to say, or a question? Here’s how you can contact us.

Episode 133 – MMIH Christmas Special with Lisa Donato, Colin Levy and Kyle McCauley!

Welcome to the 2017 MMIH Christmas extravaganza! We decided to do something special this year and bring back a bunch of our previous guests to see how they are doing and what’s changed in their career’s since we last heard from them. This week we have filmmakers Lisa Donato, Colin Levy and Kyle McCauley! This is an extra long one so if you’ve got a long holiday flight or drive, this might be the perfect episode for you!

Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device (or wherever else you find your podcasts).

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Writing a successful feature, getting representation and moving to LA with filmmaker Lisa Donato!

We have Lisa Donato back on the show, if you missed her back on episode 40 in March 2016, check it out!

Episode 40 – Lisa Donato

Lisa has been extremely busy, her film Signature Move has premiered at SXSW and is coming out on Amazon in January, she’s made two short films, got representation and is moving to LA!

  • Lisa talks about landing her representation and the decision to move to LA!
  • Lisa shares the story that she is preparing to pitch in the new year.
  • Making short films and preparing to shoot her sixth short film!

For more information on Lisa, check out the links to her work below!

Website: https://www.lisadonato.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DirectorDonato

Spunkle!

Making an animated teaser film in Amsterdam, moving to LA and finishing an epic short film with Colin Levy!

First off, if you want to know more about Colin, check out episode 26 of the podcast back in November 2015.

Episode 24 – Do On-Line Views Really Matter with Guest Colin Levy

Since we last talked to Colin he has quit his job at Pixar, moved back to Amsterdam to direct another short and now moved to Los Angeles! Check out his latest short teaser, Agent 327!

  • How was it to return back to the Blender Institute?
  • What’s the status of Sky Watch, any updates?
  • How has life been after Pixar?
  • What’s next for you in LA?

If you want to learn more about Colin, here are the links to his website, twitter, etc!

Website: https://www.colinlevy.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/colinlevy

What happens after the water bottle tour with Kyle McCauley!

Our final guest this week is Kyle McCauley, check out his episode to be brought up to speed on all things Kyle!

Episode 59 – Meeting Agents and Producers w/ Kyle McCauley

  • What’s the status of your projects?
  • How’s the James web series?
  • How is the relationship with your representation?
  • What’s the next step?

Here’s more information on Kyle!

Check out Kyle’s Website: http://www.kylemccauley.com/

Send him an email at: kylemccauley[at]gmail[dot]com

Watch his movie James on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/124083564 or YouTube: https://youtu.be/HO0r3GQjzuw

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Episode 132 – Year End Wrapup

With just two more episodes to go this year, Timothy and Alrik wrapup their discussion on a few things including Alrik’s plans for his feature film “The Alternate,” Timothy’s struggle with his contained-location script and a whole bunch of listener questions. Settle in for a dense episode that attempts to wipe the slate clean for a fresh start in 2018.

Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device (or wherever else you find your podcasts).

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Alrik’s Next Steps on the Alternate

Alrik fills us in on his feature film and what happens next:

  • Alrik now has a producer, DP and casting director attached to his film!
  • He needs a VFX company (if anyone out there is interested, send us an email)
  • Alrik fills us in on the plan to get actors attached
  • He’s also redoing his look book and we talk about what a look book is good for and what his producer thinks of his look book.
  • We explain why you should include pictures of your actors in your look book
  • Alrik explains how he is using Slated and considering paying money to get scores for his film listing
  • For those that don’t know, Slated is a fund raising website for filmmakers to connect to investors

Act 2 and Act 3 breaks in Contained Location Movies

With contained scripts it’s hard to thrust the character into a 2nd or 3rd Act because you can’t rely on moving them to a new locations to expand the adventure (which is how the hero’s journey works) Here’s a technique for breaking into the 2nd and 3rd Acts in a contained-location feature.

  • Create revelations that change the rules of the universe. For example in Alien, Act 2 begins when the Alien transforms from a face hugger and reveals itself as the chest burster. This transformation creates a whole new problem, what exactly is the crew dealing with and how do they find it before it finds them? This revelation creates a new set of circumstances and also ups the stakes. For the Act 3 break there’s another huge revelation: Ash is a robot and the mission of the Nostromo is to bring an Alien back alive, the crew is expendable.
  • Alien spins the story in a new direction without changing the setting, but notice how the stakes change as well as the rules of engagement. As the characters learn new information it changes the struggle.
  • We also talk about The Thing and ponder how this technique works in a film like The Breakfast Club.

Facebook Ad Update

A few week’s ago Timothy shard the results of a Facebook Ad Campaign, but what would it look like if you were trying to sell a film and not just drive views to a YouTube Link?

  • Based on Timothy’s ad test, he was able to get his cost per click (CPC) to 45¢/click
  • Therefore, 10 clicks would cost a total of $4.50
  • Assuming 1 out of 10 people buy the film at $10
  • And assuming 2 out of 10 people rent the film at $3
  • For every $4.50 (10 clicks) he can expect a gross of $16 and net $11.50

BOTTOM LINE: To recoup $35k in sales he’d need to spend about $14k in Facebook Advertising ($50k Gross Sales MINUS $14k advertising)

This is far from what he needs to be to recoup a $100k investment, so using what he knows about other release windows, here’s a plan that gets him to $100k.

  • Window #1 Theatrical = $10k
  • Window #2 Digital Sales Direct to Consumer = $35k
  • Window #3 Streaming Services
    • Hulu @ 8¢ view @ 200k Views = $13k
    • Amazon @ 12¢ per hour @ 200k Views / 300k hours = $36k
    • Netflix Sale @ $6k
  • TOTAL SALES: $100k

So it’s all in one place, here are some revenue numbers for you to play around with your own self-distribution plan

  • 300 Seat Movie Theater
    • Theater Rental Cost Per Seat 300 x $7 = $2,100 + Expense for food $500
    • Assuming you can sell tickets for $20 Each, Ticket Revenue is $6,000 = 300 x $20
    • $6,000 Revenue MINUS $2,600 Rental = NET $3,400 per screening
    • This is assuming you can sell out each show
  • Streaming Services
    • Amazon Prime pays 15¢ per hour watched
    • Hulu pays 8¢ per view
    • Netflix (from what we heard) pays in the low four figures, so let’s say $5k-$10k for your average indie film

Listener Questions & Topic Suggestions

Alrik asked for show topics on our NEW Facebook group and here’s what listeners said:

  • Nathan Blackwell: Off the top of my head, and apologies if you’ve covered any of these already:
    • Making your day … tips for dealing with a tough production day or when mishaps cause you to adapt.
    • Fan-films … the pros and cons of making shorts with IP you don’t actually own.
    • Rewriting … There’s a lot of talk about finishing the first draft, but how hard do you test or challenge that material after that?
    • Demo Reels. Best practices … whose actually looking at them and what do they actually want to see?
    • Your “voice.” Do you feel like you have a distinctive voice as a filmmaker? If so, how does it affect your work or how you present yourself? Or are you still searching for it?
  • Joren Winge: More nitty gritty film making shit. Casting, gear, lighting.
  • Lisa Donato: I echo “demo reels.” How important are they? Who is looking at them and who are we targeting? I’ve never spent much time making one, but I’m always wondering if this is working against me. Do they really matter? Should I have an amazing demo reel?
  • Cory Thibert: I further echo demo reels.
    • Also, if you do many things do you need separate reels?
    • One for directing, one for editing, one for acting?
    • What does a directors reel look like? How does it differ from cinematographer or editor.
    • Scheduling/budgets – don’t sound exciting, something that we have to do that can become overwhelming.
    • Do you think its important for an indie filmmaker to make their first feature before trying to get work as a director/writer etc.
  • Cameron A Caves: You kind of touched on this when Alrik worked on the Korean American film, but what is like to fundraise for a movie about a specific ethnic group, subculture, etc. Did that particular movie get funded exclusively Korean American dentists?
  • Hassan Said: Talking about how to raise funds for a low demand feature film product vs online and streaming content
  • Jake Richardson: Getting your vision onto the screen. Schumacher to Lucas to fincher various directors have stated that they never get their full conceptualized film. Some say be happy if you achieve 50%. I think Lucas stated he had 30% of what he wanted in the original Star Wars , hence his revising (meddling and worsening) it over the years. It drives me crazy just making the day or even getting on set is hard enough.
  • Damian Harris: Also, interviews with department heads, covering what they want from a director to do their job properly. And a re-jig of working with actors, from an actor’s perspective.
  • Greg Daniels via Email: I’ve enjoyed going on the journey with you but more so when you’ve been a bit more tangibly active, like when you took us through the paid pitch process. I’m just a punter from New Zealand but I’d love to hear more shows like this and interviews and less pining. Would these lawyer, producer, advice mentors be willing to give you hard truths on air? What about script coverage? Would either of you be willing to workshop your writing in a series of episodes?

This Episode Sponsored by Film Casualty

Film Casualty streamlines the insurance process for filmmakers just like you, helping provide coverage and support so you can focus on your project. There is insurance for almost everything and a lot of it isn’t relevant to what you do but Film Casualty will guide you to get only what you need at the most affordable price. Be sure to visit Film Casualty www.filmcasualty.com

A HUGE THANKS to Film Casualty for sponsoring the podcast!

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Episode 131 – How We Write Stories

This week Timothy talks a bit about restructuring his approach to his script, which leads to a deep conversation about how he and Alrik come up with the stories they write. This week is all about where stories come from, plus some big news from Alrik about The Alternate.

Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device (or wherever else you find your podcasts).

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The Daily Struggle

  • Timothy talks about being away from his creative work for a week and the steps he is taking to get back on track.
  • Alrik and Timothy talk through how they work through issues with their stories.

How We Approach Stories

How do you come up with your stories? Timothy and Alrik talk about where their ideas come from and how they get started.

  • Where do Timothy’s ideas come from?
  • How did the script he is working on get started?
  • Alrik talks about how everything he has been writing lately came from some sort of prompt.
  • Alrik talks through the process of coming up with a short film pitch for Crypt TV.
  • What are some of the other ways we come up with stories?

The Alternate News!

This week Alrik drops some exciting news about The Alternate!

  • Producer Jeffrey Allard has joined The Alternate team!
  • Jeff’s credits include executive producing the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remakes from the early 2000s and a slew of indie horror and drama films over the last 15 years.
  • Alrik has also set the shoot dates for The Alternate for the Fall of 2018!
  • Lastly, if you’d like to be part of The Alternate as an investor or potentially join the team, please feel free to send an email to Alrik directly to get the conversation started! We are looking for graphic designers, VFX artists and a slew of other partners to help make this thing happen!

Join our Facebook Community

We started an indie filmmaker’s community on Facebook where filmmakers can ask questions and share work. Come hang out with us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1798997870171718/

Contact Us

Send us an email leave a comment on our website or find us on our Facebook Community Page

You can also contact us on Twitter and Facebook

Episode 130 – Progress Anxiety, Act 2 Troubles & The Little People

Timothy talks about struggling with his screenplay, Alrik talks about wanting to just shoot something already, plus we revisit our interview with Jason Headley and talk about not forgetting the “little people”.

Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device (or wherever else you find your podcasts).

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The Daily Struggle

  • Alrik feels the burn to create more stuff and shoot something else. He wants to stop talking about doing it and just do it. We share our feelings of “not doing enough.”
  • We talk about the dangers of wanting to shoot something without having a finished script and the fine balance of not waiting too long vs rushing into it
  • Timothy faces challenges with his single location script. How do you create an Act 2 without having another world for the characters to explore? It’s much harder to write an Act 2 when you’re in the same place with your characters for the entire length of the movie. He wonders if he should abandon the idea and move on to the next one.
  • Alrik talks about his latest plan for moving to LA. In short: he wants to shoot the Alternate first. So LA is in the future but it won’t be happening soon.
  • Alrik also plans to shoot another short film and he talks about how it doesn’t necessarily fit into the style of filmmaking that defines him. But it’s a story that’s been on his mind for a long time and he has enough pieces to make it. So there’s no reason not to make it, right?
  • He also plans to shoot an Alternate teaser to help offset making a short that isn’t sci-fi/horror

Recapping Our Interview with Jason Headley

Last week we talked to indie filmmaker Jason Headley and we want to recap some of the important lessons he shared:

  • Jason’s made a commercial career and directed a feature film while living in San Francisco. If he’s able to do this outside of LA, does that change our minds about wanting to be in LA at all?
  • Jason’s made a point of putting his work out into the world and getting himself out there by simply showing up and putting himself in a place where you can meet the people that might help your career.
  • It might take years and years before all your hard work pays off.
  • You don’t even need to like putting yourself out there, you just have to do it.
  • There’s an uncertainty that what you are doing will add up to anything. Only after it all works out can you say what the steps are that led to your “success.”
  • Agents and Managers are not necessarily the key to making a career, even with an Agent you still need to hustle and create your own opportunities. Use your Agent as a tool not as a solution.
  • The importance of creating relatable stories.

Don’t Forget About The “Little People”

It’s natural to want to keep working with the people you started out with, but at what point should you work with other people to encourage your growth as a filmmaker?

  • What happens when we’ve grown past working with the people we started out with?
  • Are we obligated to keep working with the same people over and over again?
  • Do you expect people to work with you because of loyalty or do you want people to work with you because they respect your skills?

Join our Facebook Community

We started an indie filmmaker’s community on Facebook where filmmakers can ask questions and share work. Come hang out with us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1798997870171718/

Contact Us

Send us an email leave a comment on our website or find us on our Facebook Community Page

You can also contact us on Twitter and Facebook

Episode 129 – Dreams Do Come True with Jason Headley

If you stopped believing in the indie filmmaking dream, listen to this episode because it still does happen. Jason Headley is an indie filmmaking success! Not only did his short receive over 15 million views, he also has a career directing commercials and writing for Pixar. And now Jason’s debut feature film “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong” is being released on VOD and in theaters on December 1st. Go watch it now!

Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device (or wherever else you find your podcasts).

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Jason Headley

Jason Headley’s feature film, “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong,” won a Special Jury Prize at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival and the Grand Jury Award at the deadCenter Film Festival. Called “a talent to watch” by the Hollywood Reporter, Jason is currently writing an upcoming feature film for Pixar Animation Studios. His short films—including the viral videos “It’s Not About the Nail” and “F*ck That: An Honest Meditation”—have been featured at Banksy’s Dismaland, NBC’s TODAY Show, SundanceTV, the TED Conference, Vimeo Staff Picks, and film festivals far and wide. Jason has been a part of the IFP Narrative Labs, IFP Emerging Storytellers, and SFFILM FilmHouse. He’s also been commissioned by Heineken, Sony, and Chrysler to write, direct, and produce original short films. Fun fact: Jason is more handsome in real life than he is on camera, but he’s still not actually handsome.

By all definitions, Jason Headly is an indie film success. Follow along as we learn how he went from a copywriter to a feature filmmaker.

Questions for Jason:

  • Where do you live now Jason?
  • How do you make financially support yourself?
  • It looks like you started making shorts in 2008. Tell us about making shorts. Why did you make them?
  • How did your shoots get so many views? Did you know that was going to happen?

  • How much have these filmmaking labs played into your success:
    • IFP Narrative Labs
    • IFP Emerging Storytellers
    • SFFILM FilmHouse

Jason’s Debut Feature “A BAD IDEA GONE WRONG”

  • “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong” debuts this Friday, December 1st. Find the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JyZATFm00Q
  • Why did Jason decide to write “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong?”
  • Does Jason write all of his own movies?
  • Why was this movie shot in Fort Worth, Texas?
  • How did this movie come into being? Did Jason have the script first or did it come from after he was introduced to someone?
  • What’s the distribution strategy for this film?

 

 

 

 

 

Where to find Jason

Consider supporting Jason by pre-ordering his debut feature “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong” on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/a-bad-idea-gone-wrong/id1306444440

or seeing it this weekend in a theater. For theaters and showtimes, visit the movie website: https://www.abadideagonewrongmovie.com/

To get in contact with Jason, visit his website: http://www.jasonheadley.com/

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Episode 128 – Advertising on Facebook

Alrik shares his experience screening The Rage at the Pictoclick film festival. Then we delve into Facebook Advertising using a $30 experiment on two different ads.

Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device (or wherever else you find your podcasts).

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Episode 127 – Timothy’s Ego, Alrik Moves to LA & A Listener Question

Timothy talks about his ego getting in the way of his filmmaking and the emotional bruising of recent screenings of The Spirit Machine. Alrik talks about moving to LA! And we answer a listener question from Tariq Taleb: as a filmmaker do you need to be a Swiss Army Knife to succeed?

Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device (or wherever else you find your podcasts).

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