Feature Filmmaker

Ep. 83 - First Features: A Place Called Home with Adam Bova

August 29, 2022 Anna Thalman
Feature Filmmaker
Ep. 83 - First Features: A Place Called Home with Adam Bova
Show Notes Transcript

An exclusive interview with Adam Bova, professor at Columbus State University and Producer on the Indie Feature, A Place Called Home

We talk about:
Balancing film and family
How distribution is changing
Why passion projects pay
Advantages of making a low-budget first film
Approaching distribution without a sales agent
What Adam wishes he had known before making his debut feature

Trailer for the Film
Awards Page

Free "Make Your Feature Film" Checklist

Kent:

today we have Adam Bova on the podcast and thanks for so much for, for joining us today, Adam, we're really excited.

Adam:

Oh, thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Kent:

Adam has founded fountain city films with his wife, Danielle. and is the producer on the latest film, a place called home, which is set for an unofficial Nole date officially sometime at the end of the year, perhaps. and, we're getting some details on this film and we'll probably have to have you back. sometime around release Adam, you can watch the trailer in the show notes, just to what your palette and see, some of the story and film and, and whatnot, and get you excited. So, Yeah, thanks for, thanks for being on Adam.

Adam:

Oh, you're welcome. You're welcome. You can also find us on Facebook, underneath a place called home. I think it's a place called home film, and, you can follow us on Facebook, to stay up to date, so that when we can, say when we're going to be distributed, all of that will be provided there as well. So. Great. Awesome. Okay.

Kent:

Well, we're really excited because I think that there's a ton to learn, for everyone listening. This is something that we're really always trying to dig deep into it. We go over in a lot of detail, distribution and how to prepare for it. But it's always exciting to have someone who's in the thick of it. just to talk about it because you know, this is a, this is a market that's always changing. Mm-hmm independent film has changed even in the last 10 years. Totally like drastically, you know? And so it's just nice. It's I think it's really good that we continue to have these conversations every six months, at least with somebody who's just right in the middle of it, because it's always changing. So we really appreciate you coming on.

Anna:

absolutely. And I think that no matter what stage you're in, on your film, this is gonna be really valuable for you because. Everything leads up to this final sales and distribution, for you to be able to continue having a career, you've gotta be able to sell the film. yeah. Yeah. And so that is a big goal and something, I think even if you're in the writing stage, Stay tuned. This is gonna be valuable for you to learn about what to prepare for and what to, do differently. Maybe what you would've done differently, Adam, absolutely leading up to where you are now. So we'll get into all of that today.

Kent:

Yeah. O on that note, I hope you don't mind if I piggyback, something I hear all the time and this is what's exciting to me about this film. Is that it's in a lot of ways, it's a domestic drama mm-hmm and, and it might have more to it than that, but I still feel like it's about family and it's about someone struggling through real life in a modern context. It's not a period piece, not a sci-fi film. it's not a thriller.

Adam:

No. No, not really. It's more of a drama. Yeah.

Kent:

So ha you guys are already kind of in the point of like making deals, do you feel like the fact that it's a drama has hurt you? Would you suggest not making a drama, especially with like a low budget first feature or would you have preferred to have gone. Like make me more of a genre piece or that would've served you more or do you feel like it's not held you back? Yeah,

Adam:

well, we had, we had an interesting conversation with, the first distributor that we went with, or we, started partnering with, and we're thinking about partnering with, we had some conversations with him and, We, you know, we were asking about international markets, cuz you always hear, you know, especially for independent productions, you know, you you'll never really play in theaters. he actually really opened our eyes to that. he said it's about three grand per screen per night. that you have to pay, for, a theater. I think, and if my numbers are correct, it's been a while. I've slept since then. but, it it's an inordinate amount of money. that would be very difficult for an independent production to come back. So that takes out a lot of your domestic market, you know, thankfully now we have. Amazon and Netflix and other streaming services out there, that we can get our stuff shown as an independent, producer, but you always hear,, it's the secondary market. It's,, going international, it's going, to the airlines and the hotels and all of that. And we had an interesting conversation with him and he's like, we really haven't seen a lot of. Play deme, internationally for a while now. because due to Netflix, due to Amazon, those local productions, you know, in Germany say, those German productions are now able to be distributed. So they're not purchasing as many American, films in American productions. India in Bollywood has been around for a while. but a lot of kind of smaller European markets, their own stuff is now being shown on Netflix and Amazon. And so it's kind of dried up that market for the American market. you know, other than like, The Marvel movies. And I don't think any of us are going to be making Marvel movies on an independent production budget. So we're getting well sued out of our minds, but yes, yes. so, you know, we really didn't see, us doing a drama as limiting ourselves. You know, there was that whole, I can remember back in pre-production should we be doing this? Would it be better to do like a horror film right out of the gate? Cuz those are cheap and easy to make. And you know, you can usually sometimes you can hit the Jack. Pot, with a horror film or do we wanna stick with this? And, you know, kudos to Kyle, the director and the writer he kept on coming back to know, this is the story I want to tell. and this. You know, this was a passion project for him. something really close to his heart as a dad. he, what started this whole process was he was just thinking, what would I do if you know, heaven him forbid I lost my wife. You know, what would I do as a dad of two girls? and that's kind of how this story came about and that's, I think, why you connect to it so much just cuz it is so real. Yeah. I mean, the story is, very much about, a widower, new single dad raising two kids on his own. and just, trying to do that macho dad thing that I think is in all of. Guys of, you know, we want to take care of our families. We want to protect them. We want to be the provider. we want, to do, you know, fulfill that role. and he tries, and fails, and has to wind up taking out, alone, kind of a shady loan so he can get back, to work. As you guys well know having children of your own childcare is not cheap so, he has to do that and it's just a story of. Learning to ask for help. and that whole idea that it takes a village. It really, really does, to have family, to have a community, to be able to raise kids. it takes a village, so, Hmm. Cool. Those are cool

Kent:

themes. Yeah. Well, we, we love that stuff and we're really, really intrigued by, domesticity.

Adam:

Yes. funny stories there on record for you guys. funny stories there, his. Third child, at the very beginning of the film, you see a pregnant woman, that is actually his wife. and, she gave birth, oh gosh, like within a month of filming, wrapping, to their third child. and they are now up to four, so wow. four and are done. So

Kent:

as far as they have planned you, but

Adam:

you know, but his, child actually makes a cameo, in the film, when they're driving home from the hospital, the newborn infant, is actually Kyle's child. and then the infant you see later on is an actress that we, that we hired. So, oh, funny. So it was like a pickup. Yes. Yeah. It was a pickup, that he was like, well, I'm about to have a newborn baby and we'll just slap him in the car seat and go down the road and get him, get the shot.

Kent:

that's so funny, you know, it's so funny that like, as a producer, I watched that and I was like, immediately my mind went to. That's pretty good. That's actually like an infant, you know, it's not like a four month old, it's like, that actually looks like they're coming home from the hospital believably, like mm-hmm they had a couple weeks maybe in the hospital or something. If there was some complications totally believable that that's an infant size yeah. That's, it's such a thing. Cuz like being a dad, it's like, it's really hard to watch movies where it. What is that six month old doing in the hospital, it's like,

Adam:

and they're all like, it's a baby. yeah. When, when they hold up, like the newborn baby and it has all the Rollie, pulley fat on it and everything you're like, mm, no, no. Right, right,

Kent:

right. that's funny.

Adam:

So I think, you know, the key is. In order to get anything distributed, you have to find your audience and your audience is looking for something authentic. They're looking for something real. If you can do that in a sci-fi, if you can do that in a period drama then yeah, for sure do that. but I think that's the key and staying focused on that, writing something and developing something that's real and is going to resonate with the audience. Yeah. and

Kent:

I think I felt that. In the very first few minutes of the film, I could feel this like, yeah, he's not pulling any like emotional punches. he jumps right into it and it felt very, it did, it felt very, I felt some vulnerability there. It felt very honest. And so like, yeah, I think that's a huge success for everyone involved that you guys did that. Just speaking as a writer myself, it's hard. Sometimes I write stuff and I'm like, is this too personal? Is there any market for it? Because everyone keeps telling me that I have to make some sort of like a high concept action film or horror film or sci-fi. And there's nothing, like you said nothing wrong with that. I mean, that's, if you've got a good one in your mind or in your heart, like, but yeah, I think that like, script notes, John August and Craig Mazen, they're always talking about. The number one writing rule. if there is one is write the movie you wanna see like yeah. Just stop trying to figure out like pander to some market or whatever. So it's, that's refreshing to hear Adam. I'm glad to hear that,

Adam:

yeah.

Anna:

Well, and I'm, I think our audience would be curious to hear about how the, how you got involved in this film in the first place you. what was your role? Did you end up securing financing? What, when did you jump on?

Adam:

Yeah, so, Kyle had actually been writing this for about a year, before I came onto the project. I was, teaching at another university, that he was also working at, we had gone to film school together, and we were actually working at our Alma mater. and, he's like, Hey, I have a feature film. Do you want to come in ad for me? and I'm like, well, let me read it. Cause I've, I've learned that experience the hard way. you know, if you're you want me to ad something? I, I need to read that script before I say yes or no. I think I read it that night called him the next morning and was like, yeah, sure. I'm on. you know, I really don't care how much she can pay me. let's, let's figure something out. and so we negotiated a little bit, on that. he brought me on board. he had already secured funding. there was a generous. Single donor, a single investor in the film, that was willing to put up that money for us, to do this. and really by the time I came on, Kyle and our, DP, Aaron, We're already about halfway through a shot list. and they shot listed and shot listed and shot listed over and over and over again. I, to all the up and yeah. all the way up in good, in a very good way. yeah, yeah, yeah. And you know, all the way up until we started filming, which was June, I think it was June, June, July. But it kind of made my job easy as an ad, because Kyle and Aaron had already literally edited the film on paper. you know, they, they knew exactly what shots they needed, how they were going to cut together. We still got coverage just in case, you know, something didn't work. but, it was very much. A smooth process. for us, we had a phenomenal team around us and, a small crew, I think there were 15, 20, 25 of us on, on set, with actors. so it was, it was great. Oh, that's awesome.

Kent:

That's that's great. Yeah. That's good to hear. It's good to hear that it's possible. Yeah.

Adam:

it is, it is very possible

Kent:

things that happen when you prepare. if that's one thing I've learned, prepare, prepare, no, that's awesome. so you came on as ad, you said, but then you produce, you help you co.

Adam:

Yeah. Yeah. So I wound up, co-producing with Nathan banister, who is our other producer, on this film, he had done a lot of the leg work, in getting us, to that point in January. and then he was absolutely phenomenal, with helping us, he tracked down every single promo deal we could possibly find. we were able to get some craft services donated, by partnering with some local, we wound up filming in Kentucky. and so some local, breweries, some local, production, food, production facilities, and stuff out there, were able to give us some crafty and everything. and we just, put their bags and their beer all over, in the refrigerator and everything. You'll see it in there. So he was really instrumental in, in getting some of those kind of endorsements and everything. and then of course, we did have, budget, to hire sag actors, which brings with it. It's. Own host of issues. I'm sure you guys are well aware of all of that. And, Nathan was phenomenal in dealing with the union, keeping sag, happy, keeping our actors happy. so it was really, really kind of phenomenal and I've kind of, started helping with the post production and the, distribution and all of that. as we've been moving forward with this. Yeah. And you

Kent:

know, some of the people we've talked to, especially when it's their first features, sometimes it takes longer than it's taken you guys to get to the point where you're at. So like, how was post, do you feel like post? it sounds like you put a lot more of that long leg work. Into pre into writing and shot listing. But how was post was it? Did you feel like that was pretty smooth? Did it have its own big challenges? You guys locked the film a while back.

Adam:

It wasn't like last month. Yeah, I think our post process. Was just under a year, in everything. again, you know, we had done so much of that work pre when it's just pens and pencils that, you know, that's your only expense there and the paper. we had done a lot of that work, then, and so post really did fly by, Our Al our Alma mater, you know, we had some other people there that we knew, that were working in the industry. so we were actually able to bring on an editor, who is now on to, I think their second, studio that they are working in now. so we got them right at that sweet spot, right before they, they got into what they were doing. she came on, and, really, Shauna and Kyle just kind of banged it out. in a couple of months we had a rough draft of, or a rough edit of, the final product. and it really hasn't changed much since then some small tweaks and everything. I think, you know, our biggest hurdle. There's always those obstacles you run into set that you kind of have to wind up fixing and post. so we ran into a couple of those. I think Kyle actually found somebody, from Germany, to help us with some of our color grading and, some of those problems that we had to kind of smooth over, in post. and, then we also were able to hire a composer. Who came in and scored the film for us. and that was a great experience as well. Well, I

Kent:

feel like everyone's done a good job on the film. It's come together really nicely and that's yeah. And that's a lot of kudos to, you and, Nathan, the co-producers mm-hmm the two of you obviously brought all those pieces together. So that's just a, there's a lot to say for that. So, yeah. so yeah.

Adam:

Yeah. Are

Anna:

you able to share with our audience, the budget of the film?

Adam:

the vast majority of the crew, it was trading in favors, and the IUs and, the U MES, I worked on your project last type of thing. so we did, we did a little bit of that. Trading and bartering back and forth. but I think it just goes to show, you don't have to have a lot of money, to, to make a phenomenal film. and I, you know, I think sometimes working on smaller budgets forces you to be more creative, and forces you to really think about the craft and, how you're sharing emotion and how you're telling a story. And that's what an audience resonates with. you know, yes, we all wish we could have, you know, Michael bay explosions all over the screen and those are fun, but that's not really what the audience is after. And I think we're starting to see that, there's, Disney will probably can us for saying this, but it seems like there's a little bit of a fizzle out around the Marvel cinematic universe, just because. It's it's too much, you know, it's too much of the same thing. It's like always having ice cream for dinner. You will eventually get sick and tired of it. I know your kids probably don't think that, but eventually that will happen. Yeah. Mm-hmm it. You have to get back to the meat and potatoes and the meat and the potatoes are a great story. You have to have a great story.

Anna:

Well, I love that you said that I totally agree that that's really at the heart of it. And I think that having a small budget can be strategic and help us be more resourceful and get at the heart of what really matters, what audiences really

Kent:

want. I mean, and you had a budget but for first feature, it's not nothing. It's like you had sag actors. Mm-hmm you've had a couple producers on the project and you had a crew, like some, some first features are made with even less than all that, you know, and, and I'm not saying that that's better or worse. I'm just saying that, you know what you're, to your point, Adam, that. Sometimes we keep talking to people who feel like they have to have a million dollars to make a first feature. Do you feel like that would've helped your project? I mean, it would've been nice I'm sure. But do you

Adam:

think that, yeah, it would've been nice. you know, maybe we could have gotten a more well known actor. Right. But I would not trade Ben Gavin, our lead for anyone. he just, he killed this. He, he is Levi. He is the character. and you know, sometimes I think, having those smaller budget. you know, trying to stay away cuz you can't get the, main or the named actors and everything. you, but you still get phenomenal people sometimes that are a little bit better at their craft. and really embody those, characters. you know, one thing that was really important to Kyle, because we were filming in Kentucky was the accent, and, and nailing that Kentucky accident or that kind of Southern. and Ben grew up in Texas. and so he came to the audition, prepped and ready. It was his natural accent and it just, it fit, it worked, it was natural. It was real. And I think sometimes we get too distracted. By the shiny stars of Hollywood, that we lose that authenticity that can come with having the right actor in the role. And, Ben very much is the right actor in that role. And we were lucky with our entire cast, and being able to really get the right actor for the role, that we were wanting. So I feel like that's

Anna:

so true in all the roles too, is that you could. Potentially get a bigger budget and get a name person, but that doesn't mean that they're gonna be passionate about the project. And sometimes it's just a paycheck, you know? Yeah. But when it's your first thing or you're, you know, it's a big leap forward, it's something you're really passionate about finding those team members that can make a bigger difference. I think, in the overall quality of the story.

Adam:

Absolutely. Well, and

Kent:

it's like, you look at movies nowaday. With big budgets and those directors and producers have to fight tooth and nail to get someone who isn't huge in the role, because like you said, they are the right person. Yeah. I mean, you look at Elvis, you know, like that just came out like that. That was a big risk that they took putting a, not nearly well known enough of an actor in that role.

Adam:

But who was gonna complain. She

Kent:

was, you know, it's like when you have someone who's right. They're right. You know, and, and having Tom Hanks in there didn't hurt. but you know, they could have put, you know, Harry styles in his Elvis or whatever, you know? Yeah. so it, becomes harder to cast the person you might want. who feels right? You know, when you get bigger. And so yeah, at that phase, it's, it's interesting that you talk about that anyway. That's

Anna:

well, yeah, when the budget's high enough, you have to do more work to get that money

Adam:

back.

Anna:

Yeah. Yeah. That's the fear that I have. Well, I see this for a lot of people who want their first film to be a bigger budget is either one. They end up trying forever to get that big budget. And years and years and years go by, it never happens. They could have made five movies by the time, you know, they decide to do something else or they might, get a big budget, but then it's still a first film and there's a learning curve and it's not gonna be your best work mm-hmm and then you might struggle to make your money

Adam:

back and the machine.

Kent:

Gonna push harder on you, you know, like there's the pressure. Everyone wants their money back. You're not gonna have that latitude to make those mistakes and the time that you need to work through those mistakes. So anyway, we're getting on it. But,

Adam:

well I think, you know, one thing that I hopefully your audience, I can kind of speak, remember whatever money you do. Get for that film, you do have to pay it back one way or the other. You have to pay it back. and we are, you know, all of us in all of our contracts, none of us are getting a dime, until the investor is paid back fully. and sometimes, you write those contracts, so they get a percentage more, you know, they get like 10%. On top of what they originally gave to the film. And you have to look at that from an eye for distribution as well. You know, if we had gone with a larger budget, we would start forcing ourselves into tighter and tighter of a distribution channel of what was acceptable, cuz we have to make our money back or, you're not gonna make your second film. we got through our festival run, and, we're really pleased with what we did. I think, we won quite a few PA places. We were, Knoxville international film festival. We were audience favorites there. we won at the Louisville film festival. The director has the, I guess they give out, Slugger baseball bats if you win at Louisville. So he has that in his office. so, you know, we did fairly well on the circuit and everything. but after that we were just scratching our heads, like. We didn't know how to distribute a film, myself, the director, who's also the writer, Kyle Thorton. we went to school together. you know, the film school experience, a lot of people that were worked on the set went to the same film school we did. But this is just one of those things. They never teach you in film school. I don't know if it was different for you guys, but they never taught us this. so we were trying to figure that out. I recently have gotten hired at Columbus state university and I'm teaching there, in their communications program. but through that, I was able to get in contact with someone they know, we got this close to, partnering with the sales agent, because we didn't know what else to do. I thought you already had

Anna:

a sales agent who was selling off different. Like

Adam:

licenses? No, no. So we haven't, we haven't sold any rights off or anything. well we have now, but, yeah, we didn't go through a sales agent or anything. Partially just because they, they charge a lot. you know, they can, they can take a pretty penny from your film, but for your first one, you know, it's more important to get the distribution and to get out there. Your first film is not going to be your greatest by any stretch of the imagination. We know that, but you still have to make a aim for yourself. You still have to become recognizable and kind of gain that momentum that experience and everything. so, but we are incredibly proud of a place called home. I think it is an. Absolute phenomenal film. and, it doesn't feel like a first feature. Kyle worked really, really hard on this. he was writing for almost a year before he brought me onto the project. and he brought me on to the project January, 2019, as an ad, and kind of. Associate producer, to help with the project and everything. And, we were then filming that June, June, 2019. So right before the pandemic happened,

Kent:

Yeah, that sounds like a good timeline. Honestly, a much more reasonable timeline than what we experienced on ours, where it was like, we were like unfinished script funded shooting two months later. It was so fast. no, that's so awesome.

Adam:

so if you can work on a smaller budget that, you know, you. Get back through distribution, then I would say, you know, that's the budget level you should be working at. You don't want to go after the higher budget, if you're unsure that you can distribute the film to make back that money. I don't know if that makes sense.

Kent:

No, it makes perfect sense. Absolutely. Yeah. So you've talked about your budget. You've talked about the movie. you talked about an initial, conversation that you were having with your. A potential distributor mm-hmm and you, you guys have locked down distribution at this point with someone else, but, you mentioned to me off hand, their reaction to the budget. Can you want, tell me a little bit about that, because that that's kinda part

Adam:

what we're talking about. Yeah. You know, I think it comes back to telling that authentic story. And if you can tell a story. I'm a teacher. I, I teach a lot of classes. one of them is editing and there's so much you can get away with in editing. that's what the IMDB trivia pages are for, you know, where you go out and they're like, oh, the window was here. And then it was here. And then it was here, you know, and all the different. Scenes it's like no one in the audience notices that if your story is good and I think the same for distributors, if your story is good, they're going to think that you spent a whole lot more money on your production. he thought we had actually spent, double our, our actual production, budget on it. cuz again, we were just very authentic with that story. and I think. distribution definitely does start in pre-production and it starts with having that authentic. Well, I think that's

Kent:

really great. I mean, and that's exactly where you want a distributor's mind to be, right? Yeah. Is like, well, if they, if I'm gonna put 20% on top of what they paid for this so that I can kind of come away with the cheapest acquisition possible, it's like, well, they probably made it for 300, so I'm gonna have to go.

Adam:

You know, so I have to make this much and yeah,

Kent:

And then you're like, okay, let's talk about that. Let's stay in that

Adam:

ballpark, you know? It's like's good. Yeah. It's great.

Anna:

So do you think that your film is going to make the money back? Is it gonna profit?

Adam:

hopefully, we, are hopeful of that. another great advice, piece of advice that we got, from the, first distributor that we were kind of talking to, and I think is very relevant in today's market. He's like, again, since theatrical is kind of closed, to independent productions, he's like distribution is a long. you know, you may make 60,000 here. You may make 70,000 there. You may make 40,000 there, but over time that adds up., you're not, it's unlikely that you're gonna come out of the gate with a $250,000 offer, you know, exclusive on Netflix. For, you know, six months or probably be longer than that three years or more. you're not gonna get that kind of offer right. Outta the gate, but if you can, you know, there's a streaming platform that, you know, let's say is $70,000 for only a year long exclusive. and then you are free to go and, and get other distribution. Well, you can start kind of building. That budget back slowly. Yeah. so we're hopeful that we will be able to do that. we're really excited with the distribution company that we are going with. and, they have some phenomenal connections and everything. so, knocking on wood there. Yeah, no,

Anna:

that's great. I've definitely heard of people making choices to go with a distribution company that perhaps pays a little less because the platform is gonna get the film, ultimately a wider audience or more recognition. but I've also heard it described as like, You're leasing. You have a property now or an asset now, and you can lease it out and that's of course gonna build up over time.

Kent:

I'm a huge believer in playing the long game. Yeah. So I, I really do believe that that's, that's really great for you guys. I, I wanna ask about a couple more things really quick that I think are really relevant. The first one is your festival run. And the second one is your, Relationship lack thereof with sales agent. cause I think those are both really, relevant to like this, phase of the process. And so with the festival run, I think a lot of people that's like their whole post production. like their whole distribution plan. Like, and, but, but you guys went to festivals, so talk to us about how it was received, and what it has or has not done for.

Adam:

Yeah. you know, we got some, absolutely phenomenal audience response. we premiered, at the Knoxville films festival, in Knoxville, Tennessee, not too far away from Nashville. and we filmed right across the border in Kentucky. we wound up with audience favorite there, and then a couple. Later, at the Louisville, film festival, we won that one. the, we have picked up some additional awards. we were, a final selection for, the Rhode Island film festival. I'm not gonna be able to name all of these, another one out in California. the Arkansas film society. was really impressed with what we had done. and so we were really getting this sense that we were playing very well in the south, which is kind of where this film is set it's about the people, that inhabit this area. you know, it just, it resonates with that audience very well. So, you know, we were able to get some buzz out of the film. festival wins help you, no matter what, our, latest poster is just covered in laurels and everyone, it. Ooh, that's impressive. but we really. Didn't get many offers. out of our festival run, we had one sales agent, that contacted us, wanting to represent us. and they were kind of our, ACE in our back pocket in case we weren't able to find anything on our own. and so it did help us, you know, get some notice and some recognition. but I think, you know, unless you're playing in the tier one festivals, you know, Tribeca south by Southwest. the one out in Utah that I'm sun Sundance. There we go. that's bad. I should hand it back over my filmmaker card. No, just blank. you know, unless you're playing in those. And winning those, you're not gonna get distribution deals. and you know, I remember hearing, this was probably 20 17, 20 18, something like that. Sundance that year got something like 13,000 film submissions, right. It's less than

Anna:

like 0.0, zero 1%. Get it. Did you even try for any of the top tier festivals or

Adam:

we did, we ran into COVID. That was our problem. so we started our festival run in, the summer of 2021. so this was after the shutdown, that was caused by COVID within the film industry. And you would think, oh, sweet. You know, no one made any films in 2020. There will be nobody in the festival circuit. We'll just do amazing exact opposite. Oh yeah. all of the festivals in 2020 went virtual and people didn't want their films shown virtually cuz of distribution. And, you can get kind of wonky with rights and all of that. So everyone pulled their films from. Festival contention in 2020. And so where did they go next? 20, 21. so we were up against a massive amount of films, in 2021. so, I, I don't remember, Off the top of my head with any, with this feature, like some of the numbers from the festivals and how many they received. I entered a, screenwriting competition, and I think they had something like 20, 24,000, submissions that year. And it's just. Those are insane Yeah. That's why. And so it's like, how can you compete in that? So, yes, we did try for the tier one festivals, quite a, we got quite a few responses back from them, that were actually heartfelt and genuine, like. This is an amazing film. Thank you so much for submitting. We just we've run out of space basically in our lineup. And so we can't show it. and we talked to a couple of those festivals after the fact and they were like, yeah, it was just, there were too many. There were too many films this year. so we had to make some really hard decisions. So we felt kind of good about that. and we did play very, very well in the festivals that we were able to get into, regardless

Kent:

of all that it sounds like you guys did very well. and once again, like, yeah, if you're gonna spend a million dollars on your movie, you'd better get a big enough actor who's gonna like sail you into Sundance cuz otherwise, yeah. So it's coming back to that. So you guys, you didn't really need. one of those and, and mm-hmm and those are never, almost ever gonna get in to a Sundance or a Toronto without. Somebody's name on the poster, you know? So, I mean, that's exactly, that's good to know, you know, but, but yeah. So, so you said you had a sales agent reach out, sorry.

Anna:

Oh, I just wanted to ask if you actually attended all the festivals or

Adam:

that's a good question. Oh, I attended most of them. Kyle did attend, quite a few of them, since we did premier at Knoxville. And it was so close to our filming location. it was great cuz all of the cast came out and so we got to see them, it had been at, you know, almost two years by that point since we had wow. Worked with each other. so it was wonderful to see all of them again. It's amazing how fast kids grow. our, young actress had just shot up, and, was, quite a young woman. and it was just great to have that experience. and then I, went. To a film festival, here in Georgia, down in Valdosta, and got to do a talk after the screening, to some students, which was absolutely phenomenal. I'm a teacher. So I love when I can get up and teach. and then I also, we had the opportunity to, go to the Oxford film festival in Mississippi. and, I was able to attend that as well and got interviewed over there and all that fun jazz. So did any of them cover your travel? Oxford film festival wound up covering our travel. Great. So. Yeah, that is really good. That's always, you always feel like you've made it when somebody else is paying for your hotel room and would you be at a festival? You're like, oh yeah, yeah, yeah. They want you to be there.

Kent:

well, it's really good to know. I I've always. You know, hope that festivals will cover for us a little bit, but that's a good sign that they really like your film and that they're, they really want you there cuz that's. Yeah. That's great. so talk to us about you, you talked about being contacted by potential sales agents. I think most of us think like, oh, I right at that. Or, you know, that's kind of the goal is to get a sales agent and go straightforward from. why didn't you decide to go with that? And why did you guys decide to go on your own?

Adam:

Yeah. we were at all points in this, whole process. We've been very, methodical about how we are going through this and, doing our research and all of that. And just the more we were researching sales agents, it. It seemed like a very big risk, until we had absolutely exhausted every potential ability, every contact we had, you know, every second cousin's best friend, twice removed person that we could go through to try to get in front of a distribution, company. it was just too big of a risk for sales agents cuz they want, they do take a lot of your money. and they take a lot of your money before your investor is paid back. you know, they just get a chunk of that distribution deal. and so it would've taken longer to pay back the investor. And then to, do all of our other residuals and all of that. and another goal that we had with this project is this is the first one. So we wanna make the next one. So we need a little bit of an nest egg to be able to start making the next one. and just all of that seemed too risky with a sales agent. Mm. it, you. Unless your budget is very small, you know, smaller than ours, or you just, you don't have any of those contacts. then I think a sales agent they'll open the door for you. and again, you need your film scene. if your film isn't seen, you know, I hate to be harsh, but why did you make it right? You know? cause it's because you have this story inside of you that you feel like the world needs to see. So make sure that the world sees a story, and sales agents can't open that door, for you and help you with that. And I think, if you're, Also a little bit more patient than we are. That was another thing is we just didn't wanna wait five years to recoup our money. Kyle has already written the next script. so we're kind of, you know, starting to chomp with the bit to get that done. we didn't wanna wait that long. And so I think if you're willing to wait on the long game, a sales agent will definitely help. cuz they just, they have a. Deep list of contacts that they can go through to get your film, onto all of these platforms. Mm mm.

Anna:

Yeah. So did you ever reach out with like cold calls to distributors or was it all people you

Adam:

knew? we, it was all through people. We knew, you know, that old adage in this industry is it's not what, you know, it's who, you know, I. Rarely seen it play out to such an effect as I have through this distribution process. Mm-hmm and, you know, not to discourage anyone at all, it was weird connections. I got hired as a university professor. Okay. So nothing to do with my film really. and, the chair of our department knew. this person who was a distributor. And so that was a connection that just kind of like fell in our lap and that we were able to do. And I think those kind of happenstances are way more common, than we give them credit for. and, it's possible. Yeah, that's great.

Kent:

I would second that, to be honest, even in terms of investment, I think a lot of people think like, I don't know anybody with money to back up a film and sometimes it's fast sometimes it's. Napoleon dynamite. The producer's brother just put up 200 K because he had just, it was like, he was like one of those.com boomers, you know? And it was like, that can happen. Mm-hmm And, and for you guys, it, it happened pretty quick. our recommendation is like call everybody, you know, mm-hmm, ask them who they know. And after you've called about 200 people, you will. Most definitely be able to fund a really cheap movie, and not spend your own money and you're not gonna get paid, but you're gonna have enough money to make the movie. And, and, you know, we, we made a movie for quite a low amount, but, but it was, these were people we knew and we ended up having four investors. But they were not the people I thought would be interested in something like this. And so I, in my mind could have said the same thing. I don't know anybody, And so I think the same goes for distribution or in any phase, I've talked to a professor of ours who two professors, they co-directed a at one grand jury at, so by Southwest, they went and had a great sales agent relationship with submarine. Which is a big player in the world. They were almost shortlisted for an Oscar. They had a great run with that movie, like really successful half of that stuff. Festival curators, sales agencies, distributors. It was, it was because Scott, our professor was cold calling people. He openly shared that with us. He's like I cold called. I was not afraid to leave voicemails, talk to people who were outta my league, show them demos or trailers for the project. Cause they'd already kind of put together. And he's like, I pitched the movie probably 150 times, And so, and so, you know, you guys, I think in the back end, Went in with that attitude, like we're gonna exhaust yeah. Exhaust the address book, you know? Yeah.

Adam:

Well, in, the greatest piece of advice I, ever heard, was actually, when I went to this, writing festival, they had a panel, of a bunch of literary agents and,, screenwriting agents and all of that. And one of them was like brutally honest and he's like, just keep on calling people. Someone is out there that will buy your film. you know, he was talking scripts. We can talk about film, distribution. You know, someone is out there who will buy your film. You just haven't asked them yet. So keep asking, keep going a rejection. Isn't the end of the road. It's just, ah, that wasn't the right person. Right. So keep going. And if you go through. All of it and you know, Hollywood's massive. How are you ever going to get through all of it? And they all say no, someone somewhere will eventually say yes, you just have to stay in the race and keep asking until you get that. Yes. Yeah. That is good advice. I love that's

Anna:

such good advice. Thinking about it, like a distributor's another collaborator on the film. Mm-hmm you know, like we don't think, oh, I'm never gonna find a DP. How am I gonna find someone to DP my film? Some people do, maybe some people do, but I think there's this idea of like, there's an abundance of. Directors of photography out there. Yeah. Just reach out and ask them and someone will want to do it. Someone will connect with the story. Someone who's actually a good fit. Yeah. And even if they don't, you're getting to meet people, you know, mm-hmm and talk to them and see what they might be a good fit for in the future. Or if that relationship is even something you want to pursue professionally. So I, for me, it's helpful not to think about it as like I'm trying to sell this thing as much as I'm trying to find a collaborator. where this is gonna be a win-win. Yeah. Yeah. I don't know if you think that works or not.

Adam:

In my mind, it helps. I would totally agree with that. you know, the distributor is the first audience you're selling your completed film too. and if, the distributor needs to be in that, they need to understand the film, they need to get it. so that they know how then to market that, to the audience that gets it, the same way. So cool.

Anna:

Well, we are running short on time, but I have a few more questions for you. Sure, sure, sure. first of all, what would you have done differently? I know that's a big question maybe, but you know, looking back. What do you most wish you could have done differently on the film?

Adam:

specifically in talking about distribution and just some of the challenges that we have run into going through this process? we did a, about a 95% good job. Of holding on to every single piece of paper, from the film and making sure we had digital copies of it and all of our contracts and all of that, because guess what the distributors are gonna ask for every single piece of paper, every single scrap, you have to account for everything that's in your film. so that was a bit of a struggle. I would be more vigilant about it, I guess, doing it again. one thing. Really kind of stressed me out. We passed with flying colors. I'll predicate that, but one thing that stressed me out, really bad, was when you get to a certain level of distributor, when you get to a certain level of streamings platform, some of them don't ask, but some of them do for Eno insurance, errors and emissions insurance, that involves a lawyer. Okay. So not really. They're in the entertainment in industry, but they're also in law. Let's, be honest. Let's be real. but a lawyer reviewing your script for things that you have to go and change. In order for it to not cause any legal troubles for the distribution company. And we were done with principle photography. It was, this is now two years, almost three years after the fact, people have aged, we can't go back and do any reshoots. it's in the can. It's done. I was stressing so bad over what is going to happen with this E O review. that is one thing I would change. I would all the way back in, in pre-production I would just go ahead, get the E O review, get it out of the way. yeah,. I think, it cost about a thousand dollars, you know, for each time, but. For the, amount of Tums that I consumed wave with that, come back. That brand was probably cheaper. So I just imagine, yeah. It's like a popcorn

Kent:

bucket of Tums, like, yes. Oh my gosh. No, that's. You know, and that's similar to our conversation. We have with Barry Bergen, who also is distributed his film recently, Eno conversation. This seems to be coming up. So, sounds like we've all learned together that we should do that.

Adam:

yes, yes. things, I, I, things I wish they would've told us in film school, we could probably all write a really bestselling book. just on that topic, maybe we should. Yeah. That's a good idea. So, yeah.

Anna:

Well, and then I'm wondering for you, what's the dream is producing what you wanna do or, you know, what's next.

Adam:

Yeah. I think I'm fortunate in that I have really started to come into. Where my passion and where my heart lies with teaching. I am not by no means ready to give up on the film world. I, in fact, I think in order to be an effective instructor and, kind of coach and teacher to students, I have to be practicing as well. so I am looking forward to the next project, through our university. we have actually just submitted for an NEH. to do a documentary. that's about all I can say on that, at the moment. but looking at doing docs, I'm always interested in, you know, getting onto that next project. Like I said, Kyle, who wrote and directed a place called home already has another script written, would love, to get onto that project. I have an award-winning script, that I would love to get. My only problem is I didn't go the drama route. I went the historical route. And so it's set in the 1920s may or may not have a couple gangsters in it. some beautiful old cars, so I need quite a lot of money to get that one off the ground, but hopefully, you know, one day. and we'll kind of get to that. Yeah. so that's, you know, what's kind of around the corner for me, so that's great. That is great.

Anna:

All right. Well, do you have any other last questions or last things you wanna share?

Kent:

Is there, is there anything, yeah. Is there any last thing you wanna share, Adam, that you feel like we just didn't get

Adam:

you questioned about you know, I just, I wanna say, you know, thank you so much for letting me come on. I'm really passionate about how you guys are approaching the film industry. and with this, a family, focused kind of, A almost work life balance thing that you guys are trying to advocate for. it's so needed in our industry. we talk about how we have been distributing. and one thing to know about is, you know, Kyle's a working dad. I, I don't have any kids yet. but you know, I am a working, husband, and, you know, Yet we did this, we were a part of this, and this industry is not built, to support families. it's not built to support women, who have kids. It's not built to support men, who have kids, and I just hope that I can be an inspiration, to those of your listeners who are in the same boat, where they have families, they have full-time jobs, that this is possible. you can do it. You can, create a film. You can get it distributed. As a parent, as a family person. and I'm excited to see the change that you guys are going to bring about in this industry. as we work towards, instead of that, being the outlier, that being the norm of, it it's. This is a family oriented. It's this is entertainment. this is communication. This is society at its best is sharing of stories. and if we alienate, a significant portion of the population, that have families from being able to participate in this conversation, then aren't we doing a disservice to society as a whole. So I'm so glad you brought

Anna:

that. Yeah, of course.

Kent:

I just appreciate all the words.

Anna:

Yeah. Yeah. And I'm so glad you brought that up. That is actually a question I had for you that I forgot to hit, which was just your own personal experience with that. What was challenging and what helped you to be able to have that balance? Yeah. Or if you didn't, you know what,

Adam:

yeah, we, what

Kent:

did you learn? We did not on our first feature feature film. So if you feel like there was no balance whatsoever, that is okay.

Adam:

yeah, no, we, we were actually able to strike a really good balance. I think a lot of that comes back to pre-production mm-hmm and just all of the work that we had done in pre-production, So Kyle, he's our director. he is the family man of the group. so fortunately for him, we actually filmed, outside of his small town, his hometown. so his wife and kids were able to come with him. and so he was able to go home every night, to his wife and kids. my wife, Danielle, she is in the film industry as well. so she understands, you know, the challenge. Of this, and this life, it was a lot of, you know, late night Skype calls and everything. more her just listening to me breathe, cuz I was exhausted from the day and wasn't up to having a conversation but because of all the pre-production we had done, we were able to stay under like 12 hour days. and there was one day I remember. I think we had only been on set for about seven and a half hours. And I went to the director, I went to Kyle and I'm like, dude, there's nothing else we can film. And like, we are done in this location. We would have to do a company move. We don't have permission to go film at the other location yet. So I don't know what you want to do, but we were only, sitting at the seven and a half hour mark. What do you wanna do? And he piddled around for a little bit, got some other shots and everything, some coverage. and then we wrapped, and it it's possible. It is possible. We were only filming, for four weeks. we were only doing six day weeks. we had a day off every single week. the crew loved it. a lot of our crew, you know, were used to working. Other larger productions where they have to go seven days, you know, for three months straight. so they didn't quite know what to do with themselves when we got to our first day a break and they're like, what do you mean? We, we actually like, get a break. We don't have to do anything today. we're like, yeah, go have fun. Do whatever you want. So they did.

That's

Anna:

awesome. Yeah. I love that. I feel like in any other industry or most other industries, if you're like just six days a week under 12 hours, that's

Adam:

huge. They'd be what everyone, like, who am I? Like, how much who do I need to Sue? Like, you know?

Kent:

Yeah. Anyway. Yeah. Well, yeah, well, Adam, thanks again so much. We are out of time, but we just really appreciate the time that you've put into this, that you've given us for this episode and all the knowledge that you've shared, and it's been really enjoyable. So best of luck with a place called home, we hope to have you and, and maybe Kyle back on the show. Yeah. Yeah. come, come release date so,

Adam:

well, we will keep you guys posted. Awesome. All right, look forward to that. Thank you. Thanks. You're welcome. Thank you guys. Have a good night.