Welcome to the More Cheese Less Whiskers Podcast. Today, we're going to be speaking with Andrew Hazelton from Demand.Film.
This is a fascinating conversation with Andrew who's spent a lot of time building a method and a way of distributing films for independent filmmakers by hosting and finding people to host screenings that make it zero risk for a filmmaker to get their film out.
We spent a lot of time talking about the logistics of how this works and the capability it creates which spurred a whole conversation about how this capability could be a completely enhanced business model. If you have a message to get out to people, this could be the perfect distribution method.
It's fascinating to learn about different businesses and how different industries work. You can hear my understanding develop in the beginning and as the conversation went on my mind started turning with the potential here? How could we think outside the box and use this capability, not just to sell $10 movie tickets, but to gather an audience that would be ready to buy more expensive things or engage further? At the very end, we developed a completely different thought that could enhance the opportunity in a big way so lots of exciting things came out of this.
This will be a mind-expanding episode more than a specific ‘apply this strategy’ episode, but to hear the way to think about things like this, about historical examples like the way Procter & Gamble would create content to gather an audience, it simulates some really great thoughts.
I think you're going to enjoy this episode. I really had a great time exploring all these.
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Transcript - More Cheese Less Whiskers 024
Dean: Andrew Hazelton
Andrew: How, Dean. How's it going?
Dean: I am fantastic. How are you?
Andrew: Not too bad. Is the sound okay?
Dean: It sounds good. It's amazing. We're calling from the whole ... Are you on the other side of the world right now?
Andrew: No. I'm back in LA. I was just checking. I had a headphone malfunction on my flight back from London last night, so I just wanted to make sure that these backup ones were working okay.
Dean: Okay. No, you sound good.
Andrew: Perfect. Perfect.
Dean: I'm very excited. We've got the whole hour here to hatch some evil schemes. We're already recording.
Dean: It'd be cool if we kind of set the stage here, set a little context, and then what kind of evil schemes we can hatch.
Andrew: Excellent. We're always up for evil schemes. Yeah, thanks for having me on. I've been a big fan of you and Joe for a long time, so ...
Dean: I appreciate that.
Andrew: ... this is pretty exciting. Yeah, so our company is called Demand.Film. It's a crowdsourcing platform for audiences for cinema screenings, so the actual people going to the cinema still. We're operating in Australia, New Zealand, UK and Ireland and soon to be in a bunch of other territories as well. We're looking to throw fuel on the fire, but we'd like to have the fire set up a little stronger before we throw too much fuel on it and deal with that growth, I guess.
Dean: I got it. Cool, so what ... Yeah, explain how it works, how the whole thing happens here?
Andrew: I guess we have different clients. We have clients that are filmmakers. We have filmmakers that come to us that can't get their films into cinemas in the ordinary fashion, which is with the distributor and, yeah, with the majority of films these days, unless they're big blockbuster films, then that's most filmmakers.
I guess one of the biggest values of our model is that it's risk-free distribution. What that means is that unless enough tickets are sold for a particular event in advance to cover the upfront cost of paying a cinema or paying a filmmaker, logistics, all that kind of stuff, the screening doesn't go ahead and nobody gets charged.
That's kind of like the complete reverse of theatrical film distribution where you pay a lot of money upfront with advertising. You hope that people turn up and, in the current model now, you can actually end up owing the cinema money after your film is screened for a week or two.
Dean: Oh, wow.
Andrew: Yeah, this reverses that whole process and makes it profitable for the filmmaker. A lot of times, we have the direct relationship with filmmakers, so we're sending them checks within 30 days or 45 days of their film screening where filmmakers generally never get any actual money ever in the normal way.
Dean: Right. Now, who is this best suited for? Is this for documentary films, like ...
Andrew: Yeah, so-
Dean: ... films that are trying to get a message out? Is it for independent films? How does this work best?
Andrew: Yeah, we've certainly found over the years that the documentaries certainly suit the platform the best. There's normally a message that's already being pushed by the filmmakers and there's generally groups or organizations that are aligned with that message and the film is a good vehicle to help push that message out.
We have had some success with narrative features, but generally that was related to either it being hooked in that narrative feature that aligns with one of these sorts of groups or organizations. It's still a message-based storyline or a film that's being crowdsourced in the first instance and that has a very large fan base in the first instance it's being cultivated over a decent period of time.
We've had some success with YouTube stars and things like that. These are guys that have helped build up their audience over 10 years, that then can leverage our platform to get their movie out to their fan base in an efficient manner, but documentaries in general certainly are our bread and butter currently.
Dean: Cool. What would be the result that you can create for somebody? What would be the best thing that you could do if somebody would just get out of the way and let you do it of them?
Andrew: Sure. The best result is we can have hundreds of events around the world for their film and they can actually make money from that release. The other thing that's valuable for the filmmaker in the first instance is that we're selling the tickets as well, so we have that data, and it's part of our agreement that the filmmaker receives that data after their screening is finished so that the filmmakers still own the digital rights for instance or any of the other rights that they can help create a one-to-one relationship with their audience and follow up to sell digital or DVDs or any other sort of merchandise, but also that's their next list for when they crowdsource their next film.
Andrew: A lot of times, you might have a filmmaker that has crowdsourced an element of their film, which we suggest to any product these days, regardless if you make the made or not. They market a 50 of 100 people, which is a small amount, but is still a good list to start off with, but by the time they're finished doing the screenings with us, they might have 10,000 emails, which means that the next time they crowdfund, they've got 10,000 people.
Dean: Yeah, now, they've got the audience, exactly, to still continue to move forward here. When you're saying like hundreds of events, it seems like I always look to break things down to the core here, like, in order to have hundreds of events, you have to figure out how to successfully have one event. Right? Is that how you test and start out and refine the messaging to find the right audience with one event and then scale that algorithm once you figured it out or do you simultaneously launch lots of cities at the same time?
Andrew: Yeah, so that's where that initial list comes into play. For each screening, we have a host typically, and that will have either come from the filmmaker's original list, say, that 100 people from the crowdfunding element or ...
Andrew: ... bless you, or it'll be that they've already aligned with a bunch of organizations that have already shown interest or we will go out as well and activate.
Let's say we're dealing with the US filmmaker. They're not going to have a lot of relationships in Australia or some of the other territories that we're in. We'll go and activate those or we'll have already worked with those people in the past because we do have a bunch of funnels like environment funnels and things like that that we can reactivate. We also have hosts that have hosted multiple events of different films because it's within their community, so, yeah.
Dean: You start to get it now. Like the environmental is one kind of flavor of that and then there's also food. There seems to be a lot of the food stuff, especially the government is in on it. They're not telling you about these big corporations that are trying to kill you with the food and all of that.
Dean: There's lots of those movies. Right? That's a venue.
Andrew: Yeah, we curate our content, so we've already spent some time with the filmmaker to see what elements they already have in place, how much work it's going to be for us and whether or not we have database or already have promoters or hosts that will be able to help push this along easily.
Like, for instance, we got a film called A Billion Lives, which is about vaping and how essentially, just like you indicated before, that there's all this anti-vaping dogma out there which is actually according to the documentary being funded by the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries.
The filmmaker put out a notice that the film's coming to Germany. In 24 hours, we had 540 responses from people that either wanted to see the film or wanted to host the screening, and so he's been activating this community for since he started making the film. He's been priming that pump. It really is down to each territory is different.
Germany is just about to change the laws, I believe, in regard to potentially banning vaping or something along those lines, so the people on the ground are very passionate and angry and want to push their agenda, where we've just had some screening in the UK that had some success, but certainly the government regulations are different there and the passion for it isn't quite as strong let's say in the UK.
I guess to go back to your earlier question, we do have these promoters or people who put up their hands. They're the sort of top of the tier in that community. They're either well-known in their community in ... Let's just stick with the vaping documentary example. They're known because they might own a vaping store or own a vaping equipment store or whatever, and I have a mailing list. If they're the human rights people, they'll be in a different bunch of different human rights organizations and I have their list and private Facebook groups and all this kind of jazz.
That's where we do get out of the way. We will put the film up on our website. We have the option of, when people land on the film page, "I want to see this film," they can a button and we capture their data. "I want to host the screen." That sends them down a different channel. We correlate that data.
We don't set up screenings unless somebody's put their hand up and says they want to host the screening, unless with ... Let's just say, a random example, in Manchester, we had 50 requests of people who wanted to see this film, but nobody actually wanted to host it, then we will probably still put it on a screening because it's like we've already got 50 people who've shown interest. That's probably going to be enough that, without an actual host in the community, we can get a screening up because we still have all this other direct marketing tools once the screenings is on sale.
Of course, we can contact everybody who's reserved a tickets, and we have a copy that's sort of motivational to ... We have a ticking clock. If we don't sell enough another 17 tickets in the next three days, the screening will cancel. You won't get to see the movie, so here's the link. Please invite ...
Dean: Bring your friends, everything and everyone.
Andrew: ... and bring your friends.
Dean: Yeah, and it's not anymore than ... I mean, are the screenings regular movie price or would they be ... Is there a special pricing for them?
Andrew: It's typically the full ticket price or higher if there's someone from the film that's going to be there for a Q&A or somebody from the industry to do a Q&A.
Dean: Like a $10? This basically would be like a $10 screening or whatever?
Andrew: Yeah, in the US, it'd be $10. In Australia, it's $20. It's just depends on the market.
Dean: Yeah, but you don't get a Choc-top in the US like you do in Australia.
Andrew: No. That's it. There you go. I started off as an usher in a cinema a long time ago, and I used to make those Choc-tops, so I have fond ...
Dean: You're in good hands.
Andrew: ... quite fond memory of them, but I certainly know the passion of people if you don't have Choc-tops for sale in Australia.
Dean: I was introduced to the Choc-top on my first trip to Sydney. That's something I look forward to when I go.
Andrew: Excellent. excellent.
Dean: For people in the US who've been deprived of the Choc-top, it's a hand-packed ice cream cone, with a sugar cone, and a chocolate shell around the ice cream, like a hard chocolate. It's so delicious, so there we go.
Now, is your role in this as kind of helping with the logistics or are you involved in the creating of the movement or are you like a platform that people can use to get this kind of distribution? What's your role in it?
Andrew: I guess it's a bit of both. We definitely handle all the logistics, which is a huge pain points of filmmakers. We also manage their relationships with the cinemas. All the logistics and ticket sales are handled through us in customer service, but then it's also maintaining the relationships with the promoters through the process of hosting a screening, from getting it on sale to helping them, providing them the tools to push the sales along and also then what happens once the screening confirms and all those kind of things, but, yeah, certainly the thing-
Dean: The core thing, would it be like a one-night-only kind of event?
Andrew: Yes. Definitely. Yeah.
Dean: Okay, so one-night-only. Here it is. Like if you were doing this, it would be in Orlando, say, or in wherever, it doesn't matter, right, a small town, wherever there's enough, wherever you can get enough people to do it, can you explain how the logistics of that might work?
Like if I wanted to do a screening here in Winter Haven, for instance, in Florida, we've got two movie theaters here that have a combined 24 screens. Do you go to the movie chains and talk about contracting one screen for one night? How would that work?
Andrew: Sure. Yeah. We would contact the cinema. We would have pre-negotiated the lower rates to hire that particular cinema and, in most cases, the cinema shares in the upside as well, which is why we've negotiated a lower upfront payment.
For instance, a normal threshold, which means the number of tickets that need to be sold for a particular event at least internationally, is around 55 to 60 tickets. The lower the threshold, the more success we have with events. If we have a threshold of 120 tickets, people just don't buy them so it isn't an achievable goal.
The lower the threshold for us, the faster an event confirms, which then has exponential power with sales. We see people obviously are more willing to invite their friends to something that's going ahead than not going ahead. It's kind of where the hardcore community will get their baseline to get it over the line, and then that's where it sort of spreads more.
Dean: How many seats are basically are in a typical cinema in one theater?
Andrew: Our average attendance is 120 for an event, but that means we can have screenings like at George Street in Sydney where we've had over 800 people in a screening, and then we'll events that just get over the threshold with 60. It really depends on the chain and the particular cinema. Some of the older cinemas have a lot of seats. Probably a lot of the places now have 100 to 150 seats. It's fairly standard.
Dean: It's about what we're looking for, and they've got ... They're expecting 55 or 60 of them sold. Okay, and what does it cost to rent the theater? Are they getting a guarantee kind of thing?
Andrew: Yeah, they get a guarantee. They get a guarantee up to those, say, 60 tickets and then, past that point, they get a cut of each ticket sold which is around about 35%.
Dean: Okay. Great.
Dean: How does it work for the filmmaker? You've negotiated the cost of the cinema and the filmmaker is not pay anything yet. You're paying or you're getting the agreement from the cinema to reserve the date.
Andrew: Yeah, the filmmaker never has to pay anything. There's all these logistical costs. There's a special cost we have to pay the cinema as part of their agreement, which is helping offset the cost of the cinemas being digitalized. That's all factored into these pre-threshold costs, which normally the filmmaker would have to pay.
The filmmaker is on a similar agreement to the cinema. The filmmaker sets what they want as their bare minimum for a screening to go ahead, and some filmmakers will be motivated by a different ... will have different motivations, so some filmmakers may set their minimum to, say, zero pre-threshold because they want more screenings to happen and they still get a third or 35% post-threshold as well or they will say, "Okay, we want $100 or $200 or the bare minimum for the screening to go ahead," and that's all factored into the upfront threshold number of tickets.
Dean: Okay. Is it basically a third, a third, a third? If the cinema gets a third, you get a third and the filmmaker gets a third? Is that about how it works out?
Andrew: That's about how it works, yeah. I mean, we allocate 5% for the promoter. It's a nominal amount which helps maybe offset some of their ... if they do any Facebook advertising to boost the posts and things like that. The majority of people that are hosting screenings aren't motivated financially. When we do have a separate element to a ticket where we can do separate fundraising, which is separate to the ticket, which is also quite successful, but just a pure ticket, there's not a lot of wiggle room with all these costs, then 5% is just a financial element for the promoter.
Now, we have people in Australia at least that have hosted 15 screening themselves because they're really well-connected in their community about a particular subject matter and have actually made an okay amount of money hosting those particular screenings, but that's rare. It's more along the 5%. It's a nominal thank-you.
Andrew: Sometimes, we have other thank-yous from the filmmakers as well kind of thing, which you can't put a value on.
Dean: Right. Exactly.
Dean: Okay. I think I get the general idea here. Your client is essentially the filmmaker. That's who you depend on to make this kind of work. Right? Is that your main goal is to find the content or what do you see? What's the opportunity for you?
Andrew: Certainly I think that would give us the biggest amplification at the moment would be chasing or focusing more on let's just say documentary filmmakers and certainly even providing some free tools for those filmmakers just as a informational product for nothing, just as a capture device. It's something that we can ... we should definitely be looking at, but we certainly have ... We definitely have the cinemas back as well. We have to keep them happy. We have to keep the promoters happy. We use promoters because once we found someone who's really good, they're exponentially more valuable than going through the filtering process of hundreds of requests.
Some people are super excited about hosting the screening and then don't follow through, and then there are some people that will confirm a screen in 24 hours. It's like, okay, we want more people like that.
Dean: Yeah, it seems like with the right content, there's kind of an opportunity to ... It doesn't seem like such a big task to get 50 people to come out and watch a film, but, ultimately, you want more than that, but it seems like it's a pretty good thing. Of course, it's very syndicatable in a way, right? Like, once you figure out the model of what gets people to do come to the movie in Winter Haven, you've figured it out for the other cities as well to roll out.
Imagine that's why you see some movies will do limited distribution where they'll focus all of their attention on releasing in New York and just limit the budget to kind of roll out, do a slower rollout rather than release movies nationwide on 3,000 screens right away.
Andrew: Yeah, that's certainly true. I mean our model is very flexible, so a lot of times, we would do a blended release, so you would say, okay, if you had the budget, you would do LA and New York so you can get your reviews and things like that and have some national reviews, and then you could use our model for the rest of the country, for instance. We certainly do that in Australia and the other territories as well. We might do Sydney and Melbourne and Brisbane, and then there's a lot of ... There's another 200 cinemas in Australia…
Dean: Yeah. It seems like, while there seems like there's ... It's quite an engine. It's like you've got for somebody who has the right ... who would love to gather that audience for whatever the content is, it doesn't ... It seems like it would almost be a no-brainer for somebody like that even if the threshold is 55 or 60 seats that the theater may want as a minimum. It would be a few hundred dollars. Is that what it sounds like? Right?
Andrew: Yeah, it depends on each market, but, yeah, that's right. I mean, to be honest, when we have an event, and most of our events, we're utilizing underused space, so most of our events are on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday nights.
Dean: Yeah, so you're not getting Friday night prime time or Saturday night prime time.
Andrew: That's right.
Andrew: When we have a 120 people there, even if you're in Winter Haven, a 120 would be more than everybody else in all the other screenings combined.
Dean: I got you.
Andrew: Yeah, and they're still coming in buying Coke and popcorn and things like that, which is what the cinema really makes their money from. It's not a hard sell for the cinema. Certainly, for the promoters, so people that have tried to set up screenings in the past, it's certainly a pain point dealing with just trying to get a cinema at the local level and trying to set up a screening. It's practically impossible, so that's another big pain point that we sort of solve for people that want to host their own screening or do private screening or birthday screenings and that kind of thing as well. Obviously, we get a better rate as well because we're doing hundreds of events ...
Dean: I got you.
Andrew: ... with the cinema.
Dean: Help me if I'm wrong here, but I sort of start to think about how could you create this as a way to have the same audience? Like I think you were talking about initially like environment groups kind of thing that you're ... This is kind of a great way that if once you've got that vein, if they came to see one global warming movie, that they'd come see another one in a similar vein or an adjacent type of thing, if they're activist kind of thing around a specific topic, that would be a thing, or if they're health or vegan or those kinds of things, that that would be a category again, that if you've got ...
Dean: ... you're building that network. Do you co-register the people? Like, if I'm the filmmaker and you're kind of promoting this, do we both get the list of the ticket holder, ticket buyers or are you ...
Dean: ... getting an asset out of this as well?
Andrew: Most definitely yes. I mean, we're obviously all the time segmenting a huge percentage of the population with what movies they watch. I mean that is a big asset of the company. We don't have the answer yet because we've been doing this for three years and we kind of still don't have millions of data points as yet, but, certainly in the environmental funnel, there's definitely obviously segments within that funnel. Just because your anti-fracking, it doesn't mean you might necessarily go and see another environmental documentary, but you may be more inclined to watch something that is vegan food-related or food safety-related or you might be really interested in Life, Animated, which is an amazing documentary about autism.
We're hoping over time that we will get to the point where, because our contents are curated now, that people will just trust our judgment. They may have a really great experience coming into our platform with an environment film, but then they might go, like, what's actually showing in Winter Haven tonight with some Demand.Film and it's like, okay, here's a film. Yeah, it is Life, Animated. It's got nothing to do with environmental stuff, but I had a really good time, I really enjoyed the movie that I watched last time with these guys. Maybe I will watch this film even so if it's…
Dean: I love this now. Like, okay, I'm kind of really getting fascinated by this model. I was just in Toronto. Whenever I'm in Toronto, there's a cinema called the Hot Docs Cinema.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, I know about them. Yeah.
Dean: Do you know about them? In Toronto?
Dean: It's like a club in a way, right? You can be a member, but they curate different documentaries, and they've got a calendar of the ones that come on. I just saw The Beatles, Eight Days a Week documentary, which was fascinating, really good, but I've seen others. I mean, I saw theAnthony Weiner documentary there. Whenever I'm in Toronto, I'm always looking to see whatever they have available.
There's a pretty cool maybe opportunity to almost create different club-type of levels. Like if you're thinking about that, the ... as environmentalist or environment movies or foreign films or something that people might otherwise not get a look at, that, I think there's something maybe to that that the ... what I would call the after-unit of this, your list of people being able to go back to that and maybe monthly or quarterly or something have like the first Tuesday of the month is a new curated documentary from your collection.
Andrew: Yep. Yeah. Look, I think getting the critical mass, that will be ideal, and it's just ... it's building that over time. It's certainly something that we want to get to because, as you say, with the Hot Docs cinema in Toronto, Weiner, that's a bigger ... There was a wider sort of released film with Netflix and things like that, but so many fantastic documentaries just don't get seen.
I've been speaking to Joe, because I know he's been working on a couple of documentaries, and I've been trying to tell him that you can't create a movement on iTunes. If you're sitting at home by yourself, watching something on the couch, then there's no call to action. Even with Tony's documentary, which obviously got wide release through Netflix and a lot of people saw it ...
Dean: Netflix, yeah.
Andrew: ... it still doesn't create the movement if you're sitting at home than instead on cinema screenings in this model. It's just not the same experience. The thing is that so many filmmakers now bypass the actual because it is just so painful and it's so expensive, but every filmmaker doesn't make their film so it's seen on an eight-inch screen ...
Andrew: ... on a phone. It's been made to be seen in the cinema wherein, once it's gone to ... Once it's released on to Netflix or iTunes or any of the other ancillary markets, theatrical is done. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.
Dean: Right. Yes. Exactly.
Andrew: We're trying to get the filmmakers as early as possible even if it's just ... You set aside a month of screenings before you decide to go and do the rest of your digital campaign for instance. That first first list of people who've actually been to the cinema really makes a huge difference when you go into digital and any of the other platforms because you now have your army of people that you can contact directly to let them know, encourage them to buy for their friends or whatever else it is. You only get that through a direct ticketing system like our. Even if you, say, release X-Men on 3,000 screens, they don't have a clue who bought any of those tickets.
Andrew: They have to go and find those 10 million people every six to 12 months to see the same film over and over again.
Andrew: That's a huge difference in the relationship between the filmmaker and the audience.
Dean: Yes. Yeah, because the audience, again, they have an insatiable appetite for more, especially somebody who's come to a movie that was a great made out, nowthere's this void. Now, they're looking for something else again, that they would love to come back to that. I would love that if there was in Winter Haven. I'm kind of thinking to myself how can ... why create a documentary…
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, you can and, certainly, there's been, in some other markets, there's certainly been what you would end up saying it becomes a taste maker because someone will trust your judgment, Dean, and you could say, look, this ... not ... You might show Weiner one month and then the next month you might show Life, Animated, which is completely different, but equally well-made documentary and people just will then trust your judgment going forward and will probably more likely to watch something.
They might come, let's say you did 12 a year, they might come to eight. Once you've got that first 50, then it makes it so much easier. You might have a different 50 the next time, and then the next time you might have a 100, which is a mixture of those first 50 plus the second 50 plus whatever. You have that email list, so you can just direct response to them.
Let's say you did do something like that, then ... and all the events went through us, then we would know that you had other stuff coming up and we would just trailer your next film on your current film, so...
Dean: All right, yeah, exactly.
Andrew: ... when everyone's ... and so we did that already with environmental films or films that we filter in the same funnel. If it's in our pipeline already, then we'll trailer the film in front of the current film, so first touch points so that if we email them about it in two months' time for instance to say, "Hey, this film's now coming through. Do you want to host the screening? Do you want to see it?" et cetera, then, at least they've already seen the trailer.
Actually, something I forgot to mention was that ... so we have a really high conversion on our film pages, so ... or, sorry, event pages I should say. Like every event at Winter Haven or it's an event in Orlando or it's an event in Miami. Every event page has its unique link, so you're not sort of drilling down trying to find…
Dean: I got you. Yeah.
Andrew: Everything's trackable. We've got our picks all going and all that kind of jazz, but just from the people that are sort of the promoters that are in the community, our conversion rate is around about 12%, which is really strong, but that's because it's coming from emails and it's coming from a trusted source.
Also, for the filmmakers, that means that 82 people ... or, sorry, 88 people who didn't buy a ticket have seen the trailer and seen the poster, which means that might be touchpoints for that particular film they're not going to that they know what Life, Animated is or they know what Weiner is ...
Andrew: ... even if they decided to buy.
Dean: Right, yeah, I mean this is really fascinating. I'm listening just the way ... You mentioned you've been talking to Joe Polish. They're working on different documentaries now, but what a great way to create a movement, which is exactly what they're trying to do with bringing awareness and, yeah, different than like getting it on Netflix like you said, which is anonymous. This is about really creating the message that creates the movement.
What do you see as like the big opportunity? What kind of marketing opportunity? If you could solve this, what would it be kind of thing?
Andrew: I don't know if it would be possible, it would be great to get to a point where we could do targeted Facebook ads that converted in a way that was efficient just to sell tickets. I don't think we're going to get to that point because the price point is so low on a particular item, but we may use.
Dean: Just so you could sell, yeah, for a thing. Now, do you ever think about like, within it, some sponsorships? Like a lot of those things, there are really a big reason why somebody would want to sort of present some content like you were saying with the vape company. Like that's kind of ... It makes sense that there's an opportunity there.
Andrew: Yeah, so that does happen. Actually, we've got a screening. Actually, we just had a screening in London, two screenings in London and now are both sponsored by a vape store, so they pre-bought the threshold to guarantee the screening was going ahead and getting the tickets to their best clients or best customers, and then they're still an organic screening so people that might not be on their list still came to the screening.
That's certainly one way of doing it as a host. We'd certainly be interested in I guess having a pre-show element related to sponsorship on a bigger scale if there was a larger organization that was correctly aligned with the subject matter or wanted to.
If it became American Express Presents X, then we would be open to something like that as well. We haven't executed anything pre-show yet in that regard. We've certainly had screenings hosted by the same organization, but we find a lot of the organizations that we're working with have limited resources, and that's why they're using us as a vehicle to help get their message out there.
Dean: Yeah, and you start to think like with this sort of capability, what you have is to just kind of think maybe a little upstream. Like would you say that your ... the greatest asset that you have right now is the knowledge that you have, the relationships that you have, the experience that you have in how to orchestrate a distribution like that? Essentially, you are a distribution company in a lot of ways, right?
Andrew: Yeah. Yes, we are. I mean, our umbrella company is a distribution company. My background is theatrical distribution, so I worked for a studio for a number of years, so that's ... but the whole model has changed now. The business model has changed. Certainly, the relationships with the cinemas, which is hard to acquire, and then our the biggest asset is the database that we've built and the relationships.
Dean: I look at this now and I would immediately start thinking outside of the box here a little bit and think, first of all, there's no better time than now to be a filmmaker in terms of the barrier to entry to actually make films is as low as it's ever been. I mean, with the quality of the cameras and the technology and stuff that's available and the access to a global talent pool in editing and all of that stuff, right?
Andrew: Yeah, that's right.
Dean: The cost to make a film is as low as it's ever been. I kind of start to think about like really old school. There used to be a way of creating or bringing out movies that was going theater to theater. I think it was called four walling. Have you heard of that term?
Andrew: Yes, so I mean-
Dean: Okay, so like-
Andrew: Yeah, that's ...
Dean: Gone with the Wind-
Dean: Yeah, Gone with the Wind, for instance, was like that. It would go to one city and then go to the next and go to the next kind of thing. I remember there was a guy who did all these ski movies, Warren Miller.
Dean: That was an event in Toronto. Every year, we'd go to see the new Warren Miller, like the big screen, big, beautiful scenery kind of thing. It was an event that people would look forward to. Now, I couple that and I think about back in the day when Procter & Gamble sponsored and created the soap opera. A lot of people don't know that. Are you familiar with that term soap opera? It's like the middle of the day, like a serialized show?
Dean: A lot of people don't understand why they're called soap operas is because Procter & Gamble actually created it. Right? They wanted to have a way to gather their audience, to gather their group, which were the housewives who at that time in the '50s were at home with the ... doing the ... maintaining the house and stuff. They would create something that they could watch in the afternoon while they're having their lunch or after lunch. That would be a break, but it would gather them so that they could then run their soap ads, their product ads to sell their stuff to that audience.
I wonder, as a outside-of-the-box kind of approach to go backwards to kind of create, get sponsors who want this kind of an audience, like what would be a dream come true for them if they could get this audience of people and create content that would be valuable to create that kind of person, almost like a ... It kind of almost gets the opportunity to kind of be a studio in a way. I guess that's where that goes, right?
Andrew: Yeah, look, I think that's a fascinating idea certainly. We've approached a couple of, or at least one organization that lists ... I guess it just needs to be up front about I guess how subversive the messaging is or if it ... Let's just say the Red Cross or something wanted to do a documentary about the Red Cross, I can see that as being valuable and helping push that through their whole network.
We're certainly looking at organizations that their whole business model is potentially having these ambassadors that are helping raise money for them and being able to then identify very quickly who their key people are, and if you were able to turn around the documentary really quickly, it pushes the message of that particular organization. They could be something. They could be really interesting.
Dean: That's kind of an exciting thing because, if you had that distribution and it's just like you can push a button and it unfolds, that you've got this rabid audience that you know you can do it, almost creating a quarterly or whatever kind of schedule or somebody could create for these, think about the different filmmakers who have done that kind of audience-based stuff like Kevin Smith, for instance. Do you know who Kevin Smith is?
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, of course.
Dean: Okay. Yeah, so when he released Red State, that was his movie that he ended up taking that around and coupling it with his Q&As, An Evening with Kevin Smith, plus you get to see his new movie. It's an interesting thing where he's got a built-in audience of people, of course, who are anxious to see whatever he does.
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, and that would be ... If a filmmaker has a built-in audience that is rabid like Kevin's, then it certainly, in my opinion, that would be the best way for him, for a film like Red State, which is a little tougher if he's doing Clerks 3, which I think he is doing, that might be a different scenario, but probably ...
Dean: Yeah, broader.
Andrew: ... broader, but it would still be probably potentially worthwhile considering, looking back at the past results of, say, Clerks 2, for instance, just being random, say, "Okay, well, the top 50 cities or top 100 cities or the top 200 cities for these, uh, we'll do the ... we'll do a regular theatrical in those, in those markets, but then we'll go out to my fan base and say, okay, well, we're doing, you know, a full release in these cities, but, you know, we need one of you to put up your hand in Albuquerque and, you know, it's up to you to drive, get 100 people to the cinema on, on a Monday night so you can see the movie." In the end, it's just so much more efficient.
Dean: For those, yeah, for people like the Kevin Smith fans, that would just be the only payment that they would require, or it's just being closer to Kevin, like being an insider kind of thing, people who are passionate about it anyway, that would be something.
Now, do you ... Are you familiar with Fathom Events?
Andrew: Yes. Yep.
Dean: They do the live things. Is there anything different about that or is that something that even you could do also like the live stream kind of situation, too?
Andrew: Certainly, if the content was available, then we could definitely do something like that. I mean, Fathom is a little bit different where they kind of, they are just like a regular distributor, where they put on 500 events on one night and kind of pray that people come and turn up. Not everyone of those screenings is profitable. They're using a lot of push marketing to get people to come to those events.
They're really just the traditional distributor in alternative content, but certainly special one-night-only events that a live content, I mean the infrastructure in US, live stuff as in Australia or in a few of the other territories, but it's then who owns the rights to these films. If we don't have the right and if Fathom has all the rights to all the, I don't know, live Dolly Parton shows or whatever, then we're ... It's a matter of what content is available to us, then we can't get in front of it with some other content or other alternative content.
It's certainly something we're looking at, but certainly the documentary is what we're focused on at the moment. There's certainly more heavily lifting to putting on a live event and streaming it in and all those things, and sometimes the rights to those films are extremely expensive like all the Macbeth, the ... Benedict Cumberbatch doing Macbeth or Hamlet or whatever else.
Dean: Right. Exactly, or imagine if there was a ... if they did a Hamilton release or something, yeah, right now.
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. If you live streamed the last performance of Hamilton, with the main guy, the name just escapes this second, but if you live streamed-
Dean: Yeah, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Right.
Andrew: Yeah, so, if you life streamed the last performance that he does on Broadway before he leaves, that would be amazing, but, once again, that's moving it into the push territory. Yeah, if you set it up two months in advance, then you can definitely use our model for that but then it turns into the Hamilton, which obviously they've got to have a decent database and Facebook page and all the rest of it that that would then be pushing their fans to us and us setting up those particular screenings and ...
Dean: I got you.
Andrew: ... probably the different way would be that Fathom would buy the rights to that particular streaming solution into the cinemas, the rights for that production and put 1,000 screenings on sale and just hope that those 1,000 screenings went well and just spend marketing dollars to try and drive people to those screenings.
Dean: I wonder if, think about another maybe potential or from a marketer standpoint kind of thing would be a ... We used to do ... I built with Joe Stump, for years, we built a big coaching organization for real estate agents and we would do big events every month. We did for 15 years, somewhere in the country, we did a big three-day event with 6 or 800 people. The way that we filled those events was that we would ... We had two guys who would go out and do half day presentations. They would go out and do a three-hour event and they would sell tickets to the three-day event.
We would do 10 events surrounding Orlando, for instance, if we were in Orlando. We would do Miami and Fort Lauderdale and Naples and Tampa and Jacksonville and Atlanta and maybe a couple of other places in Orlando that would ... 10 events closest to the venue, and all the things would be promoting the people to come to an event like that.
I wonder if there could be an opportunity to model something like that, if somebody had almost like an opportunity to create almost like a live workshop for somebody, but done as a film version of it. Think about that.
Andrew: Yeah. I think that's really interesting.
Dean: Right? The biggest cost, of course, was we would have to pay the ... It costs about ... The whole engine of that, but just the hard cost of the events was at least $5,000 each for the hotel room, the speaker, the person who traveled with the speaker, their airfares to go to the event, so it was at least $50,000 or $100,000 just in those promotions, not to mention the cost of getting people to actually attend, the marketing costs of it.
If you think about something like that, if we were doing that model, if we had a documentary that kind of creates, that shapes that kind of narrative with a call to action, that might be a neat way rather than having people come to a half-day workshop, have people come to your documentary.
It seems like where the value is that you can gather people in an environment where you can then direct that sort of peak emotion that you're able to create as a group in an audience. Right?
Like, if it's an environmental thing, everybody there has just seen this movie and the feeling, what they have is that they're outraged or they're ... they want to take some kind of action, you can then direct that action towards something, the next step. Right?
Andrew: Yeah. No, like I think, initially, when you were talking about what events could we set up to try and sell $10 tickets, but, now, I understand you're talking about using your $10 tickets to sell something else, which makes a lot more sense.
Dean: Yeah, like you almost think about like ... I'm saying that we were spending money. That's what I was saying. Like if we I could go back to that, if I created a great documentary type of ... like a film, that would be something that all the real estate agents would love to see kind of thing and then invited the realtors to come to the theater ...
Dean: ... that's an interesting thought.
Andrew: Yeah, I think we should do it, Dean. That sounds great. I already know how well-connected you are in the real estate world, so we can do the Dean Jackson documentary and you can pre-buy all the tickets and then sell $1,000 program to everybody who attends. It sounds like a good money spinner for all this.
Dean: That's the point, right? If it's like really a super webinar in a way and it's really ... Imagine it's part of like the ... It's like a webinar on steroids where you get to have the people actually in the room.
Andrew: Yeah. That's an amazing idea, because, I mean mostly I follow all these webinar guys and everything else like that and they'll be talking about the webinar being dead. This could be the next progression ...
Dean: That's the thing is get them actually in the room.
Andrew: Yeah, that's an amazing idea. Yeah, I'm certainly willing to help push your real estate programs. We should talk about that afterwards.
Andrew: Yeah. That's a fantastic idea.
Dean: Who else would that work for? Like if you're thinking about it, like who else is doing big things like that, like things that are-
Andrew: It would work, I mean, just off the top of my head, obviously it would work for Joe I mean even for Joe's program that's $1,000 or something like that. If your cost of customer acquisition is $10, let's say, and it's not $10 because you're getting 35 ... If you're made the content, you're getting 35% back anyway, so it's costing you $6.50. It's costing you $6.50 to potentially sell a $1,000 program and lifetime value of your customers, this might be $5,000 and this is ... That's a pittance.
Andrew: That's a bargain, so I guess the content would need to be obviously exclusive, only available in cinema. You need to be revealing something that you've never revealed before. It's a new revelation that you've just discovered and, like you say, they could be any of these guys that are selling expensive ... not expensive, but high ticket online content probably to start off with that then could create the funnel to your live events and your Mastermind and then the Genius Network and all the rest of it.
Andrew: That could super valuable especially in the space. It doesn't need to be a 90-minute feature. The cinemas would love it if it was a 60-minute documentary within a 30-minute, potentially, Q&A with one of your surrogates or ...
Dean: That's exactly my point. That would be it. That's right, yeah.
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, now, I think that's genius.
Dean: I think we may have hatched the evil scheme here.
Andrew: I believe that would be an evil scheme, Dean.
Dean: Just to take it to that level of the per-event, so roughly the cost to do an event like that would be somewhere around $500 or $600 minimum? Is that what it is?
Andrew: Yeah, something along those lines. I mean, probably, for your audience, let's just say you were going to do it, I would still ... I would either guarantee it, so anybody who came to the page didn't worry about is it going to go ahead or not going to go ahead.
Andrew: What I mean is I wouldn't want to offer free tickets for something that you were doing because, then, less people turn up if they're not ... if they haven't committed even if it's just $10. It's a small amount of money. I mean you can charge a premium. That depends on how much you value. If it’s 10 bucks and you're charging $20, but you're targeting real estate agents that sell waterfront properties in whatever, then they'd probably go, "Gee, it's normally $10 for a movie ticket. This is 20 bucks. This must be really good information or really valuable or something that, you know, Dean doesn't just want to give away."
Andrew: Then that might weed out price-conscious people anyway as well potentially, which might be taking away a seat from somebody who is willing to buy a $1,000 program or whatever, but you can experiment. That's the thing with our model. It's so flexible.
You can experiment. You could try the $10 ticket and see what the response rate is, how many people really turn up and what the conversion is and do a $20 one where you can just base it on demographics or the cost. If you're dealing with waterfront property people, then you would think they're going to be a higher bracket that might be willing to pay extra for this, and we'll limit the tickets. There's only 100 seats. It doesn't matter what's in the cinema.
Dean: Yeah ...
Andrew: …hundred seats or-
Dean: ... and imagine the cinema wouldn't ... Would the rates be any different if it were in the afternoon, a weekday afternoon or a weekday-
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. Yeah, and that's the other thing. We would actually would be probably utilizing capacity again that isn't being utilized even by us because we can't get people to come to an activist movie in the middle of the day because they're working, but if these guys are considering this to be work, then ...
Dean: Yeah, for me, it's a business thing.
Andrew: Yeah, that's really good.
Dean: That could be a great potential there. I'm just thinking about a distribution opportunity, as a vehicle, so if you can figure out how to do that, how to get all the business owners, for instance, and all the entrepreneurs in a market to come to a movie or to get all the ... whatever segment it is that you have, that would be a pretty interesting proposition.
Andrew: Yeah, look, it's ... The other value of being in a cinema is that the presentation is consistent. That's why we can ... we ship the hard drive to the cinema, which has the movie on it or whatever the content is. We know the lighting is going to be correct. We know the sound is going to be correct.
Dean: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: Yeah, the biggest issue is organizing a microphone for before or after the screening, which is amazing in this day and age that getting a microphone to work in a cinema seems to be complicated compared to the presentation, but we can guarantee the presentation is right. You don't need to be there an hour before, making sure the slides work and all the rest of it. It just plays as you say, if you had a surrogate or your franchisee or whoever else is going to be doing show for you could do it. If you're trying to sell a McDonald's franchises, that would be great.
Dean: That's what I was thinking exactly. I like this. Okay. It's been fascinating to hear this model, this opportunity, but I think that may be a cool thing, especially if we could figure out how to do that for people and get their, you mentioned, franchises, but that's not ... It's such a great thing if we had a documentary that's like getting people fired up about doing their own thing and ...
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, yeah.
Dean: ... then there's ... if they become like a franchise broker, that might be the perfect kind of sponsor for something like that because the franchise, if you sell a $50,000 or a $100,000 franchise, these are often 25% or 30%, so it's a big upside on things like that.
Andrew: Yeah. Definitely. It's a genius idea. My mind is racing already.
Dean: Now, your mind is going to blown, but here's something that I'll just ... I'll leave it at this. I just was at an event where I've been doing some experimenting now with a independent newspaper owner. I've learned a lot about the inside workings of how newspaper work and how they're mandated to ... They have to have a 60% content, 40% advertising to qualify as a media publication, and so whenever ... They have to balance the content and the advertising that, when they sell, for every page of advertising that they sell, they have to create a page and a quarter of content, so that becomes a balance for them, because the content is an expense for them.
Imagine now, imagine if you take these independent newspaper owners, and we were able to create some kind of arrangement with them to create content that gets the word out about this movement or this movie that's going on, there's kind of a ... That could be a really like powerful thing.
Andrew: Yeah, that would be amazing because you can certainly obviously pretty write a bunch of articles that can...
Andrew: ... articles. They can be…
Dean: …articles about that content and then have the things, and the advertisers, like the cost for ... the incremental cost of four pages, which is one signature in a newspaper, four surfaces is really pretty low incrementally to add one extra page, and it might be a really kind of cool thing to as a revenue opportunity for them, too.
Andrew: Yeah. It's not going to be a hard sell, is it? It's going to be "we'll write your page so you can sell four or whatever," not four, but half a page or whatever else that's worth. Interesting. Interesting.
Dean: Pretty interesting. My mind is spinning. I'm going to have to journal some of these. I'm glad to have gotten to spend this time with you and kind of opened that up. I'd love to hear what the people listening, they may have some cool applications for this, too. We could create something pretty special.
Andrew: Yeah. I obviously really appreciate getting the opportunity to speak to you today, and I'll be looking forward to seeing the comments from any of the listeners as well. Obviously, I'm happy, I don't know if my details get put up there or not, but happy to share it with anybody.
Dean: Sure. Yeah. Where can people go to see what you're about?
Andrew: If you go to Demand.Film, it's just "demand," D-E-M-A-N-D, dot-
Dean: Look at you. You've got a fancy, new top domain level.
Andrew: Yeah. No, it helps with-
Dean: Demand.Film. Okay, Demand.Film. I like it.
Andrew: That's it. If you know this filmmaker or anybody else, email Andrew@demand.film. Happy to initiate a conversation there. I speak to a lot of filmmakers every day, so I'm happy to speak to more.
Dean: There we go. If you're a filmmaker, if you are a content creator, if you are a movement maker, if you're someone who would like to get behind the moment, there's lots of opportunities here. I'd love to hear what you guys are ... what you're thinking.
Andrew: Yeah, as do I. Yeah.
Dean: Thank you so much. It's been fascinating. I love all these things. You never know how it's all going to come together, but I'm going to think about pairing this with what I know about the newspaper things now and maybe think about in the market where this particular newspaper is. That might be a cool opportunity to do a combination thing there to experiment.
Andrew: Yeah, that'd be amazing.
Andrew: Excellent. Thank you so much, Dean. I really appreciate it.
Dean: Thanks, Andrew. Okay.
Dean: Nice talking to you. Buh-bye.
Dean: There we have it. That was a fascinating episode, especially the very end, this whole conversation. My mind's been spinning since we ended on that note. I've imagined combining access to newspaper as a way of getting out a message and combining that with the local theater to distribute something. There's just so much great synergy when you start thinking outside of the box and you start thinking about how can we take things and combine them in a new way. It stimulates new ideas, so I'm fascinated by that especially because it's right in my favorite sort of method where it's a local thing that can be syndicated.
You can experiment and create what I call the scale-ready algorithm. If you could create between the newspaper, collaborating with an independent newspaper owner and collaborating to get the message out and gather people to come to a screening as an opportunity to build that audience, there's so much fascinating stuff there.
I'm going to have to digest this myself, but I'd love to hear your ideas about this episode that maybe this stimulated, that something how else this kind of could work or other combinations that could work with this. I know certainly that it could work with a book as creating a lead generation for the movement that could then lead to a documentary.
I'm also looking for like simple ways to get things started, and that's ... It's really the whole reason why I started the 90minutebook.com is to help people get their ideas out into the world in the fastest possible way. That's maybe a great place for you to start. If you've got a movement that you're looking to create or an idea that you're looking to get out there, maybe it starts with a 90-minute book. I'd be happy to show you how to do that. You can download a copy of the 90-Minute Book at 90minutebook.com.
Then I do want to hear in the comments your thoughts, your ideas or brainstorms about how this might play out. I'll keep you posted, too, because I'm definitely moving forward with testing the concepts in the independent newspaper. Stay tuned. Evil scheme may have been hatched here today that could play out in the next 12 months, so watch this space. Have a great week, and I will talk to you next time.