The Indie Film Hustle Podcast is your #1 source for how to hack the film business and indie film world! The show is here to help as many indie filmmakers as I could. We wanted to bring the best guests, industry leaders, creative legends, and film business friends to you, the IFH Tribe.
Some of the past guests include 3X Oscar® Winning Writer/Director Oliver Stone, Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black), Alex Proyas (The Crow, I, Robot), James V. Hart (writer Dracula, Hook), John August (Big Fish, Aladdin), Jim Uhls (writer of Fight Club), Oscar® Winner Russell Carpenter (DP of Avatar, Titanic) Joe Carnahan (Smokin' Aces, The Grey), and David F. Sandberg (Shazam!) to name a few.
We hope this podcast can help you along your journey as an artist, filmtrepreneur, filmmaker, screenwriter, and as a human being.
IFH 464: How to Make Money with Your Film for 10 Years with Mike Dion
This week, I wanted to pick the brain of a brilliant filmmaker, Mike Dion. Mike is an award-winning filmmaker, marketing strategist, and multimedia storyteller who has made a living over the last 20+ years applying all the tools needed by a filmtrepreneur. He's found his niche creating documentaries of adventurous brevets and transcontinental cycling races across the US, Mexico, and Canada
Mike has produced globally distributed feature-length projects like Hair I Go Again (2016), Inspired to Ride, Reveal The Path, Where The Yellowstone Goes, and Ride the Divide that can be streamed across major platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes.
On June 7, 2014, forty-five cyclists from around the world set out on the inaugural Trans Am Bike Race, following the famed TransAmerica Trail. Their mission is to cover 4,233 miles in one enormous stage race, traversing through ten states in a transcontinental adventure of epic proportions. Inspired to Ride follows a handful of cyclists from around the world as they race unsupported in the inaugural year, with four cinematographers, cameras flying in the sky, and GoPro’s galore. Mike produced the Inspired to Ride documentary in 2015.
Here's a peak of Mike's latest documentary, Hair We Go Again: Facing a midlife crossroads, two longtime friends risk everything as they set out to fulfill their dreams of achieving rock & roll stardom. The first and last chances happen only once as their improbable journey is chronicled in the feature-length documentary, Hair I Go Again.
One of the reasons I invited Mike on the show was to have him share what he's doing, how he's selling content, what's making money, and what's not making money. In 2008, he created Mike Dion Productions which original content like films, strategy, and branded content for social media, marketing, etc.
In 2012, he paired with his producing partner, Hunter Weeks for his directorial debut documentary film, Reveal the Path---A genre-defying adventure film that contemplates what it means to live an inspired life using the bicycle as a mechanism to explore, dream and discover.
In true Mike Dion niche-storytelling fashion, one of his first producer/editor gigs was the award-winning feature film about the Tour Divide Race in 2010 titled, Ride the Divide. The film weaves the story of three characters' experiences with immense mountain beauty and small-town culture as they attempt to pedal from Banff, Canada to a small, dusty crossing on the Mexican border.
The Tour Divide Race is basically a mountain bike race that traverses over 2700 miles along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
The COVID pandemic has required everyone to profoundly change how we budget, prep, and produce a feature film or television show project in order to work safely and effectively. So this is a very educational episode if you are looking to learn how to safely shoot a feature film during COVID and how to make money from it.
Enjoy my informative conversation with Mike Dion.
MOTIVATION: You Can Do This
We all need a kick in the butt sometimes on our filmmaking or screenwriting journey. This show will do just that. Never stop chasing that filmmaking dream. Keep on hustling.
Proud Member of the IFH Podcast Network (ifhpodcastnetwork.com)
IFH 463: Clapboard Jungle - The Truth About Indie Filmmaking with Justin McConnell
On the show, today is an indie film director, and CEO of Unstable Ground multi-media company, Justin McConnell. Even though he’s known for his work in post-production, Justin has also directed and written projects like Clapboard Jungle, Skull World, Lifechangers, and Galaxy of Horrors across the sci-fi-horror and documentary genres.
Justin is a man who wears many hats; his multi-media company, Unstable Ground, which he has been running successfully for the last 22 years specializes non-exclusively in film and television production.
The main reason I wanted him to come on the show was to discuss his new documentary called Clapboard Jungle, which explores the painful and brutal journey of a filmmaker trying and the movie-making process. I absolutely loved the documentary. It’s in a great tradition of films about making movies sort of a love letter to independent filmmakers.
Clapboard Jungle, directed by Justin in 2020, is a documentary that follows five years in the life and career of an independent filmmaker, supported by dozens of interviews, posing one question: how does an indie filmmaker survive in the current film business.
Clapboard Jungle was birthed from his lacking for such resource at the start of his career in the industry and launched onto developing the project/thought after directing and writing his 2013 documentary, Skull World, which follows two years in the life of Greg Sommer, aka Skull Man, as he builds the Canadian chapter of Box Wars, an international underground movement of cardboard-based combat.
Talking about horror, he wrote and directed a fantastic yet disturbing horror feature film, Lifechanger in 2018 that is about a homicidal shapeshifter who is obsessed with reconnecting with the woman he once loved. To cheat death, he leaps from one body to the next, stealing the form of his murdered victims. And with each new identity, he circles closer and closer to her, looking to wind his way back into her life and her arms, no matter the cost.
Clapboard Jungle is a MUST WATCH FILM for all filmmakers. It shows you the raw truth behind the dream of being a filmmaker.
Enjoy my eye-opening conversation with Justin McConnell.
IFH 462: Bloodsport & Rambo - Journey Into 80's Action Cinema with Sheldon Lettich
Get ready to go down the rabbit hole of 80's action cinema. I sat with an iconic 80s & 90s action film director, writer, and producer this week - Sheldon Lettich brought to our screens some epic actors and fighters like Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sylvester Stallone. He’s the trailblazing director and writer of Lionheart (1990), Bloodsport (1988), Rambo III (1988), and the Cold War drama, Russkies that first introduced us to the phenomenon that is Joaquin Phoenix.
An Ex-French Soldier begins participating in underground street fights in order to make money for his brother's family.
Lettich’s experience as a Vietnam veteran has inspired much of his films and plays throughout his career. Paired with his academic background in photography and cinematography, he bulldozed the action film scene with other classics like The Order, Double Impact, and The Last Patrol.
Between 1983 to 1987, Lettich wrote and directed a couple of short films that did not pick up as much. The following year, he wrote and the martial arts classic, Bloodsport - inspired by tall tales from Frank Dux that Lettich became a famous name in Hollywood.
The film also launched Jean-Claude’s career, the star of Bloodsport who played Frank Dux, an American martial artist serving in the military, who decides to leave the army to compete in a martial arts tournament in Hong Kong where fights to the death can occur.
If you love Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat then you have Sheldon to thank. Bloodsport was the first time you have multiple fighters, from around the world, with unique styles fighting in a tournament.
The commercial success of Bloodsport, which grossed $50 million on a $2.3 million budget catalyst more trailblazing films. Lettich signed an overall deal immediately with White Eagle Productions that led to his collaboration, co-writing Rambo III alongside Sylvester Stallone in 1988. The movie was a HIT for the Box office. It outperformed his previous project, grossing $189 million on its $63 million budget.
One thing I discovered speaking to Sheldon is that Bloodsport was NOT A TRUE STORY. The person that the film was based on, Frank Dux, was apparently a brilliant storyteller. There were lawsuits, books written, just and absolute mess. Either way the film is a masterpiece of 80's action cinema.
Another classic in Sheldon's canon was the highly anticipated sequel, Rambo III starring Sylvester Stallone. Rambo mounts a one-man mission to rescue his friend Colonel Trautman from the clutches of the formidable invading Soviet forces in Afghanistan.
Lettich reunited with his friend, Jean-Claude in 1990 for the fan-favorite, Lionheart. This time directing and as a co-writer. He approached the project to allow Jean-Claude to display versatility, compassion, and rises beyond the "Karate Guy", now that he had become a household name. The film made $24.3 million on a $6million budget and became popular amongst his films.
The two, Lettich and Van Damme, immediately followed up with their third of several collaborations, Double Impact in 1991 with Jean-Claude playing a set of twin brothers who were separated when their parents were murdered but 25 years later they re-unite in order to avenge their parents' death.
Like their initial projects, this one too became a critical and commercial hit.
It was a nostalgic thrill chatting with Sheldon about these movies that are part of the beautiful tapestry that is 80's action cinema.
Enjoy this throwback entertaining conversation with Sheldon Lettich.
IFH 461: Nicolas Cage and Jumping Into Willy's Wonderland with Kevin Lewis
Get ready for a crazy ride! On the show this week we have indie filmmaker and screenwriter, Kevin Lewis. He’s been active on the scene and directed several indie films between 1996 to the present. Kevin's vastest film is the trippy indie (soon to be a cult classic) feature, Willy’s Wonderland, starring the legendary Nicolas Cage.
Lewis has definitely paid his dues. He started out making films in Highschool with his VHS and Super 8 comers. Between the short film releases amongst his peers earlier on, to internships at Columbia Pictures, he was in the right position to secure a scholarship into USC Film School where he graduated from.
The Method, Lewis’ directorial debut was his first feature film right out of college. It is about four guys' college life centered around a theater production of a bank robbery and how to make it better.
In 2003, he directed and wrote Malibu Springbreak, about two Arizonan girls who headed out to the Malibu beaches for a spring break of partying and fun in the sun.
He met an actor on the set, Jeremy Daniel Davis who didn’t play a big role in the film, but Lewis stood up to producers and kept Davis scene. Fast forward to some years later, Davis joined the production team of a project he was working on at the time and the two kept in contact.
The universe realigned and Davis popped up with the script of Willy’s Wonderland for Lewis out of the blue. This cosmic aligning of a movie, Willy’s Wonderland was directed by Kevin and released in Feb 2021, after his thirteen years filmmaking sabbatical.
The action-comedy horror film stars Academy Award® Winner Nicolas Cage - A quiet drifter who is tricked into a janitorial job at the now condemned Willy's Wonderland. The mundane tasks suddenly become an all-out fight for survival against wave after wave of demonic animatronics. Fists fly, kicks land, titans clash -- and only one side will make it out alive.
Get ready for a wild ride. Enjoy my entertaining conversation with Kevin Lewis.
IFH 460: Slacker, Indie Cinema & How to Become a Filmmaker with Richard Linklater & Katie Cokinos
Well I put out an episode back in 2019 putting my dream list of guests out into the universe and in the past four months I've been humbled to have some amazing filmmakers and screenwriters on the show. Incredibly one of those dream guests has made his way on the show today.
We are joined by indie film icon and Oscar® nominated writer/director Richard Linklater. Richard was one of the filmmakers who helped to launch the independent film movement that we know today with his classic 1991 indie film Slacker. So today, we will not only dive into the extraordinary career of Richard Linklater but also that of collaborator and longtime friend writer/director Katie Cokinos.
If this is your introduction to Linklater and his work, here are a few highlights you must know; Linklater helped launch the 90s indie film renaissance with his film Slacker.
The producer, director has juggled the TV, film, short-film, and documentary genres seamlessly over his career - typically focusing in fine detail on generational rites and mores with rare compassion and understanding while definitively capturing the 20-something culture of his era through a series of nuanced, illuminating ensemble pieces which introduced any number of talented young actors into the Hollywood eco-system.
One of the talents to emerge from this era is the Texas native, Matthew McConaughey in Linklater’s third movie and VHS smash hit, Dazed and Confused. Based on Linklater’s years at Huntsville High School and the people he encountered there, the film shadows the adventures of high school and junior high students on the last day of school in May 1976.
Throughout his career Richard has chosen to tell stories about the human condition, while many times making us laugh and cry at the same time. I found an immense philosophical under current to most of his life's work. From The Before Trilogy to Boyhood, his films tackle topics in an honest, raw and deeper way that is not normally seen in filmmaking.
Many of the actors who work with Richard call him the "Zen Director" on set. His philosophy can be felt throughout his work. He often tells long and transformative coming of age stories over years, if not decades, something that is unique to him.
His Oscar® nominated film Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason's parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before.
Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's Yellow to Arcade Fire's Deep Blue. BOYHOOD is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. It's impossible to watch Mason and his family without thinking about our own journey.
Now the other remarkable filmmaker in this conversation is Katie Cokinos. She has made over ten short films and in 2000 wrote, directed, and acted in the feature film, Portrait of a Girl as a Young Catwhich premiered at SXSW. Katie produced Eagle Pennell’s film, Heart Full of Soul (1990); was a publicist for Richard Linklater’s Slacker, (1990). She was the Managing Director of the Austin Film Society, 1990-95.
Her latest film is the coming of age story I Dream Too Much, co-produced by Richard. Here's a bit about the film:
Presents a day in the life in Austin, Texas among its social outcasts and misfits, predominantly the twenty-something set, using a series of linear vignettes. These characters, who in some manner just don't fit into the establishment norms, move seamlessly from one scene to the n