I am the writer/director/producer/editor/crafty table nazi of catch 22: based on the unwritten story by seanie sugrue - which was released today by 108 Media on all major VOD platforms - iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, Vudu, Xbox Video, Vimeo. catch22movie.com

I'm also the creator/director/producer/editor of the Amazon documentary series Batteries Not Included, a nostalgia-minded doc where I interview some of the more prominent toy, game, and content creators of the 80's and 90's - people like Larry Hama (creator of G.I. Joe), Bob Budiansky (creator of Transformers) and Kevin Eastman (creator of TMNT).

I've multi-hyphenated my way through 40+ IMDb-listed productions - writer/director/producer/editor/actor/low budget problem solver/and more. I've learned a couple things along the way.

I'm the author of Filmmaking, the Hard Way, a case study on low-budget filmmaking available in paperback and via all e-platforms, and founder of NYEH Entertainment

Follow me on the Twitter, @joshfolan and Patreon

Proof: https://twitter.com/joshfolan/status/819574229792395265

Comments: 1039 • Responses: 91  • Date: 

xStratusFlight101 karma

Where does your funding for your films mainly come from?

joshfolan212 karma

Every project is wildly different, but the primary financier was a guy who was a regular at a bar I bartended at many years ago. We kept in touch over the years, and he happened to have a few extra bucks when we were putting the project together. We were "greenlit" by way of a latenight text message where he was bored and sitting at a hotel bar on a work trip. "How much do you need to make this thing happen."

psychyness76 karma

That's awesome. That guy seems just like me. I always make decisions like that seemingly out of the blue in random spots. Truth is, it has been something that I've been deciding on for a long time, I usually just pull the trigger at odd times.

joshfolan53 karma

Matt?

hahahaha

BiggMuffy20 karma

Yes? Hi!

Tempest_149 karma

It's me, your cousin.

TheSecretAstronaut50 karma

Do you want to go bowling later?!

H_n_m_n21 karma

Fuck it, dude. Let’s go bowling.

_Machinate18 karma

I don't roll on Sabbath!

joshfolan14 karma

Nice marmot.

excaliboor5 karma

I'm like just, except I have some money myself, too. Contact me if you're up to co-founding some shit. If we share a passion for a subject, there might be another catch 22.

Fuck it, let's do this.

(tomorrow in r/bestof: "Guy who self-funds movie with partner which he casually meet hosts AMA. Two guy casually meet in the comments and decide to self-fund their own movie." or "How Twilight happened.")

joshfolan10 karma

Wouldn't be the strangest place I've found a collaborator. haha Shoot me an email - [email protected]

UpVoteanypostImIn49 karma

What do you think of the commercial my buddy produced? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwuTklHPbuQ

joshfolan28 karma

Pretty damn solid. Definitely captures the "essence" of 70's porn. haha

Im_A_Director14 karma

Wow finally an AMA that interests me! I'm a film student graduating this semester. Very interested in Directing films. Can you tell me about your directing style? Has there ever been a time where you were having trouble getting a performance from an actor? How'd you fix it?

joshfolan22 karma

Minimal as possible. I'll copy and paste my answer to a similar question earlier:

I try to avoid doing so altogether. I don't say a word to an actor until I've seen what they're doing with a take. They might have something in mind WILDLY better than anything you could have came up with yourself. The second you open your mouth you lose forever what they prepared prior to, so let them do their thing and then, if need be, subtly nudge them in the direction you need.

Grandpa826 karma

Me and my Niece (She is 11yo) are excited to produce homemade movies but trying to be close to the "real thing". Of course, budget is going to be a few bucks. Any advice to my niece about her project? Any additional words that you may want to share so she can feel motivated?

Thanks in advance.

joshfolan26 karma

Make as many TERRIBLE things as you possibly can afford (time and/or money) to. You can't learn how to do this stuff in a classroom, or from a book, or anywhere else other than physically doing it. That's not to say you shouldn't read as many books and listen to as many talented filmmakers talk about this stuff as you can, as you might avoid a few pitfalls, but you just flat out have to do it and see your wrongdoings on a screen in front of you to understand where you actually went wrong.

The_Real_Classic5 karma

Hey, we also did a feature film with basically no money and probably hustled more than you did. our financier was pretty much ourselves and we managed to get it on amazon. here is our trailer, let me know what you think:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSDqlLZDisE

joshfolan2 karma

Hustling more than me is quite the claim, man. haha We can't afford boats! But it looks like it has some high octane pacing, which is great. And Amazon prime is such a great thing for indie film - monetizing content without having to ask the audience to fork over money, at least on a transnational basis.

brierrose5 karma

Evening. πŸ˜€ How did you first get into film making, how did you get your first big break? You're so lucky to be doing stuff like this, I bet it's so much fun. πŸ˜€

joshfolan1 karma

Not sure I've had any big breaks. Just incremental ground gained by way of working nonstop for a decade. Some days are more fun than others, but it's definitely amazing to sit in a dark room and watch someone be entertained by some crazy ass story I helped tell. :)

revocer4 karma

If all you had was an iPhone 7 as your video, what other (cheap) gear would you need to capture good sound and good lighting?

joshfolan12 karma

Watch Sean Baker's "Tangerine". On Netflix right now, I believe. I'm a massive fan of his work (Starlet is also great) and they shot that on iPhones. Because it was a Sundance darling and was shot on iPhones, there's a slew of features all over the internets talking about how they did that flick with very little money that I recommend looking up. Sean's "steadicam" was an iPhone fixed to a broomstick that he held while riding a bicycle around the actors. That's indie goddamn filmmaking.

clipperstall3 karma

How long did this movie take you to make from start to finish?

How much do you anticipate to gross in revenue from this project?

joshfolan7 karma

It was almost three years from when Seanie and I started writing in August of `13 and it coming out today. It was "finished" in late summer of last year though.

Revenue? That I anticipate? I never anticipate any revenue. haha And that makes for very happy days if and when a check actually shows up in the mail.

7eregrine3 karma

Do you have a "real job"? I have to assume you have a "real job" to be able to live in this expensive ass city.

joshfolan-1 karma

Cleveland isn't that expensive, Tony. But New York is, you're right. ;)

sunnydownsouth3 karma

Hey man, I'm really glad you're doing this ama cause what you do really interests me and I could use your advice right now!

So I'm planning a final art project for school, and recently I've been so into short films and cinematography and all things visually storytelling, that I've decided to make a short film.

I have my ideas, I'm busy with the planning, but now I'm having doubts. Who do I ask to play my two characters, what type of equipment is a necessity, how long will it realistically take to shoot?

For my first question, I just want to know what is more important for a small project like mine - someone who looks the parts /is attractive, or someone who is more comfortable in front of a camera?

Second question, equipment. Any hacks for microphones you know, which are cheap but usable ? Most of my film will be silent, but I don't want to be in a corner. Shooting at night, do I need to know anything particular concerning equipment?

And finally, for the length. This little film will be 4 to 5 minutes. Will it take a few hours? A few days? I have no idea, so any advice would be great.

Thanks so much! Mad respect :)

joshfolan7 karma

My pleasure, man!

Real. You want the performance they give to feel real when you watch it on screen. If that's not there, NOTHING else will matter - what equipment you had, how much money was spent, how much time you took, how talented your collaborators were. So when you're auditioning actors, you need to find the actor that makes you forget you are listening to an actor talk at your face and that you started listening to the story they were telling in the performance. That's what your film's audience will need to do as well, and if that doesn't happen in the first few minutes they'll turn it off and start playing with their phones.

The cheap and easy sound capture device is a zoom recorder. I record interviews for Batteries Not Included, the amazon doc series I do, with the voice memo app iPhone sometimes. haha

There are so many variables that go into the time spent shooting something, that's a really hard question to answer. But you should be aiming to do something simple, just a couple of actors in very few (ideally one!) location. If that's the case, two days should be plenty for a 4-5 page script.

rickmuscles2 karma

Are filmmakers being forced to rely too heavily on netflix and amazon or is this a golden age since their films can be seen relatively easily?

joshfolan0 karma

It is NOT easy to get small films seen. Distribution is very difficult without what distributors see as "bankable" talent in your cast, and you have to fight constantly to get your films in front of people. It's why I'm here now!

Novas51892 karma

Hello Josh and thank you for doing this AMA!

What are you currently watching (TV shows or movies) and/or reading?

joshfolan2 karma

I just finished Sneaky Pete on Amazon last night. Hotboxed all 47 seasons of Always Sunny right before that. Was definitely on Westworld. Eagerly awaiting Better Call Saul and Rick & Morty, the next season of BoJack. Reading Blake Harris' Console Wars right now, as well as the 5th edition of the D&D player's guide, because my new year's resolution is to start playing again for the first time since I was a teenager.

Been watching all the awards screeners, so my best 3 of those was Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, and Fences.

jaystickzors2 karma

Do you have any plans on doing a workshop for low budget film makers like us? If yes which city are you gonna hit first or will you do it online?

joshfolan3 karma

That'd be something I'd very much be up for, but producing live events of any kind is a painful process for me and it's very unlikely I'd devote the time necessary to do something like that on my own. Want to produce it for me? haha

Keetamien1 karma

How big is the average crew that you work with? What is something that you do not do when making a film? And why not also film if you already seem to do most yourself? (do you film?)

joshfolan6 karma

Department heads and, depending on the scope of the project, maybe an assistant. Camera and Art are often places where it's tough sledding with only one body, so there's usually two. The way we're structuring our new project, Love Is Dead!, is going to be a three-camera setup much like a traditional television show, so we're actually going to have a third camera department person. Like, whoa.

And I joke that eventually I will be able to just make them in my bedroom myself, all alone. I actually did that once last year, as long as you don't count my dog, for a very simple short project idea I had that was mostly me at my computer. Shot that on a mounted gopro. But usually I do not shoot, no.

gandalf_grey_beer1 karma

What are your must-see movies aside from those you've made?

joshfolan0 karma

Well, I wouldn't ever put my movies on my own must-see list. I've seen each one of them thousands of times already, and I can do without watching them anytime soon. haha

I watch so many films, this is always a very tough thing to summate into a few movies. I'd say most anything with a Duplass Brothers stamp on it, most recently Rainbow Time and Blue Jay. Safety Not Guaranteed and Cyrus are two older favorites of theirs. Sean Baker does stellar work - Tangerine and Starlet are phenomenal movies. Joe Swanberg is great. Basically, I like filmmakers, and films, where great stories are told with minimal resources and bullshit expensive gimics (explosions, superheroes, car crashes, etc). That's obviously colored by my financial limitations in filmmaking, and the respect born out of knowing how difficult it is to make a good movie with just a few actors in a room.

KIUIPIO1 karma

Serious question: I have no film experience (only as a 35mm projectionist at a cinema) and I'd like to create a documentary about growing up as a child with military parents. Do you have any ideas for funding options, books to read, YouTube videos to watch or any references that you can think of for me to get started somewhere?

altruismjam1 karma

Do you have any tips for pitching digital media to Amazon? I'm very interested in online release for my (in the writing stages) project of a 3 episode multi-genre miniseries comedy.

joshfolan0 karma

Amazon Prime doesn't require pitching. You can just put that baby up there and start marketing it, which is a total game-changer for content creators - being able to reach all the people Amazon does without a gatekeeper standing in your way.

Aoae1 karma

What is the best part of this type of filming?

joshfolan2 karma

Watching it pass into the public's hands at midnight last night!

Jamesbaxter74741 karma

What software do you use to edit your material?

joshfolan1 karma

Premiere!

ArcticRakun1 karma

How often do you "fix it in post"?

joshfolan-1 karma

Never. I plan the shit out of my shoots, from both directorial and producing perspectives, so it's rare that shitstorms happen on set where we're not getting what we're supposed to. And I know my post budget is not going to allow for crazy computer graphics or anything, so we better have what we need in the frame on the day of. With catch I knew I was editing, and I know I'm not capable of any elaborate after effects shit, so I was particularly sure to get what I'd need in the edit.

happyspasm1 karma

What's the most challenging part of the process for you, from script writing to post?

joshfolan-1 karma

Financing and distribution. Asking for money is the worst, and trying to convince distributors people want to watch your little movie is next to impossible.

jaystickzors1 karma

What is the most frustrating part when directing movies?

joshfolan-1 karma

I've never had a bad directing phase of filmmaking. Working on set with actors that are being gracious enough to tell some crazy ass story of mine with me is amazing. The producing duties are where things get frustrating - financing and distribution.

revocer1 karma

  • What is the biggest lesson you learned about film making?
  • What is one trick to good storytelling?
  • What is a mortal sin to do in film making?

joshfolan3 karma

*To stop talking about, just go out and do it via whatever means you have to. You can, and most people do, talk about making movies forever and never get the shit done. Get things done however you have to, don't talk about getting them done.

*Tell stories you want to watch. Sounds obvious, but people chase what they think others want to see and because they don't have an exact vision of whatever the fuck that is, they end up making something that no one wants to watch.

*No such thing. Other than not making more coffee if you take the last of what's in the pot.

69sucka1 karma

How do you find money to produce passion projects? I always wanted to make videos, but got carried away with working in the industry to pay bills, and my dreams of making my own projects started to slip away.

joshfolan-1 karma

You gotta just do it. You're never going to have enough money, especially for the first one, so you gotta just figure out a way to do with with NOTHING. And if you really want to do this crazy shit, you will.

aphoticDeception11 karma

If you was a vegetabbble, which one? (Proof- http://www.potato.es/wp-content/uploads/potato-slider.png)

joshfolan-1 karma

Definitely a sun-dried tomato.

aphoticDeception13 karma

Tomatos are fruits tho.

joshfolan-1 karma

Hahahahaha...excellent point.

liamquane1 karma

What was the distribution process like???

joshfolan2 karma

Slow and painful. haha

CeleryStore1 karma

What are you currently working on, and is there a way for us to help?

joshfolan2 karma

The two things that are hottest on the burner for me are a feature-length adaption of my co-writer/co-producer on catch 22, Seanie Sugrue's, stage play "Love Is Dead!" - a really dark comedy that we are shooting in the style of a twisted 80's family sitcom. I also have an ongoing nostalgic documentary series on Amazon where I interview toy, game, and content creators from the 80's called "Batteries Not Included".

Clearly I like the 80's. haha Anyhow, if you're into the stuff I'm doing I'd very much welcome and appreciate your support of what I do via my Patreon - http://www.patreon.com/joshfolan - where you can even become a producer of the Amazon series if you'd like!

other_tanner0 karma

Hello, Josh.

Never heard of you before today, but I'm utterly fascinated with your model. I work a union prop job on Network television for ten months out of the year, and I'm completely disenchanted by the way these sets are run and the massive amounts of money being wasted. I'm a director myself, and use the generous wages I make during the work season to put toward a film of my own that can be shot in the two month hiatus.

Your budget and production style seem to be very in tune with what I'm after for the next film. I'll be buying your book in hopes it will help me along the way.

My question to you is, why do you choose to go about filmmaking in this hyper-independent fashion? Is it even a choice? Would you ever even want to make a film on a budget of a million dollars? Ten million?

joshfolan1 karma

That's awesome, man. I do a ton of producing/UPMing/etc for hire to keep the ship afloat between my own films as well.

It was born out of a lack of access to money, and has continued because I just don't see the benefit of making things more complicated than they have to be. I like to watch small, character-drive films that could be called "talky", so that's also what I like to make. I have no idea, other than paying the people I'm lucky enough to work with more money and spending bread on distribution so people actually see these things, what I'd spend a million dollars on. Amazing crafty spreads, maybe. haha