Go With Your Gut

Go With Your Gut

Scilla Andreen
Devin Miller
The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs

Go With Your Gut

You can have a great idea you, can even have the funding for it. But you need to leave room in the execution of that model to have that variance, the human condition variance. You can pull all the data, you can interpret all the data, you can look at all the comps, you can see all this stuff. I will tell you that you have to go with your gut. You have to do gut checks all the time. And you have to leave a little room for something to happen. I don't mean, be negative; it will not work that way. It's more like something amazing could happen in that little space that you leave for magic to happen.


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have a great idea you can even have the funding for it but you need to leave room in the execution of that model to have that variance the human condition variance you can do all you can pull all the data you can interpret all the data you can look at all the comps you can see all this stuff and i will tell you like you can you got to go with your gut you've got to do gut checks all the time and you got to leave a little room for something to happen and i don't mean be negative like it won't work that way so let's pad it's more like something amazing could happen in that little space that you leave for magic to happen [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host evan miller the serial entrepreneur that has grown several businesses to seven eight-figure companies as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where he helps startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com and grab some time with us to chat now today we have another great guest on the podcast and they're all great so i always say that another great guess but i always mean it um which is sheila and i'm still gonna i'm worried i'm gonna pronounce unless uh andre adrian my mom says andre but it's andreen andreen all right i did my best attempt and i even asked her before the podcast could i try and get the names right and i still usually slaughter her but that was my best attempt so so it was a quick introduction to sheila um so she went to uh nyu and got it i think studied some poli sci i wanted to be an attorney at one point and then met a director he uh convinced her that you can make more and get doing commercials and doing videos and whatnot than you're ever going to make as an attorney decided to leave the career or leave the that career in college went and worked and did the commercials um started to i think was dating or otherwise the director wanted to marry it kind of freaked out didn't that wasn't where he wanted to go moved to l.a created or did more creative jobs in la for a period of time and then realized that a lot of the films never got picked up and so with that kind of saw an opportunity is to hang out hanging out her shingle so to speak on helping our films get found so to speak and having that impact and then she's kind of continued to develop her career from there so with that much as a uh introduction welcome on the podcast sheila oh thanks for having me devin so i gave kind of the 30-second quick high-level overview but let's take us back in time a little bit tell us a bit about going to nyu studying poli-sci and kind of how your life changed from there yeah um great great recap by the way um so i just remember sitting in you know in the classroom looking out the window at the cam you know not the campus but just in new york city and i honestly i was distracted and bored i worked three jobs putting myself through school i really wanted to be a litigator i love the law and it wasn't necessarily my the director i started um dating saying you'll make more money and film because by the way you don't and some unless you are like the nano 1 but um i helped him out on a commercial and ended up making 800 a day and the food was amazing and it was i'd never done anything like that before and i had so much fun that i actually chose to to leave school and do this for a while save up some money thinking i might go back and i never did go back it just kept me more things so now so you so you made first of all you made this 800 a day is is a is a pay is pretty good if you could sustain that for for indefinitely if you could just continue to find those commercials that would be you know a pretty decent pay so but so you decided hey okay so initially and with a lot of things just kind of start out as this will be an attempt you know a temporary thing we'll do it for a little while make some money or get some pay and then we'll you know go back to school and never life always takes us in different directions he said okay i like this this is fun and enjoyable did that for a period of time and then it sounded like you know you romantic relationships or at least at least on one side started to develop as in addition to career but you decided that wasn't the direction you wanted to go so you moved out uh moved from where you're at in nyu to or new york to l.a is that right well my mom was in la and uh my boyfriend at the time had asked me to marry him and i was kind of like no i'm i'm 20. i'm not even 21 right and i'm not ready yet so i ended up leaving there to go visit my mom who'd moved to la and i got a job doing a low budget movie out of the trunk of my car which led to me doing other gigs there and using my sort of styling styling background uh to move into costume design and the first gig i got was the wonder years tv show and then i did party 5 dawson's creek smallville jack and jill kind of went on to do some really great tv shows as a costume designer i got even nominated for an emmy on the wonder years i didn't even know what an emmy was i was like okay um and went to the emmys didn't win though um but i did go and you know during my hiatus i was great i'm grateful too because i worked on successful shows so i would work nine months out of the year and have three months off and then during those three months i would make a short film or a feature film that i would direct or produce and then i started going to the festival circuit and in the film festival circuit i started to meet other filmmakers i started to learn how the film industry worked and um got out of my bubble of being just in the studio system so that was quite an education and i became really passionate about that community because unlike when you go down to the theater downtown and you watch a movie pre-covered nobody talks to each other when you go to a film festival you're talking to people that you for some reason same environment but a completely different experience you're connecting with total strangers over content and telling stories hmm no and that you know that that sounds exciting no one question you ha i had kind of zero chance through that because you kind of you know one thing we talked is you found out about underprivileged films right or whatever you want to call them under and you know a lot of films get made very only a small fraction again that them get actually picked up or go anywhere but you know kind of as you're in that environment how many films do get picked up i mean the only thing i only think i know about movies is when a new movie comes out in the film and it looks good i go watch it and i love watching movies but how many movies don't get picked up so i don't know what the stats are today because of the thousands of streaming services out there but back in those days um roughly and this was before you could make a movie this was right before you could make a movie on your iphone but there was about 60 to 70 000 films made every year in the world and less than one percent were picked out hollywood only has so much bandwidth right and but even still like they there was a sort of an industry thing that i think a lot of filmmakers didn't realize is that filmmakers want to have their films go to all these festivals and get all these laurels and accolades and have it in front of a live audience they want people to see it they spend their time and money to go there they answer questions um rarely do they make any money in the festival circuit it's usually you spend money it's like a form of marketing it's kind of a lost leader it's like a version of a theatrical in a way the industry actually looks at that and in the beginning there's a handful of festivals you can do and win awards and get some reviews that's good there's a tipping point when you start to do too many festivals hollywood starts to think you've been exploited already you've already been seen by too many i'm not going to pick you up because you know somebody else would have picked you up by now if you were that good um so you almost become damaged goods now today's world with all the streaming opportunities you can go to a whole bunch of film festivals and then go on to a streaming service and no one's going to think you're damaged goods but um i sort of went off on a tangent but no but let me and one question i had because so you're saying really only one percent make it to big mainstream some of them go to film festivals a lot of them really just don't go anywhere but you know and again i'm a bit ignorant so or excuse my question but you know is that you know i you see with the big movies you know avengers or whatever one it is they spend hundreds and millions of dollars to produce those movies are the ones that don't get picked up usually the lower budget ones or is that some of them that are still high budget ones or kind of what is that dynamic and it's really just a personal question or a personal interest question but i was just curious well i think we have to break it into two parts one is there's hollywood makes their movies and they are already like marketing it while they're making it and then they spend probably sometimes more money than it costs to make they spend in p a to get it out into the world so that they can get that initial box office which will then in the old days it actually did sort of up the ancillary rights where you could you know on all the other windows nowadays you know a plus so that's a hollywood movie now then there's the film festival movies which are made for far less money that a film that hollywood can come in and pluck purchase and we hear about some of those deals at sundance which by the way i think today is day two of sundance so that you're talking to an independent filmmaker um and sundance is in utah so all the better i've actually i haven't gone to sundance but i've been to the same resort that they hold sundance at so anyways small world so although it's not there this year but um i oh i didn't even know see i i don't keep track as much as i should it's okay it's virtual this year and i think they have a pretty amazing platform it's a lot more interactive so that they built themselves is from what i hear but so you can also you know hollywood will come in and pluck a an independent filmmaker out sorry and give a filmmaker an opportunity and put them on some of the now main streamers um let's just talk the world of covid right now because we're not doing theatrical screenings in any effective way um so there's you're okay i know i got lost on the question what was the question i think that no i think it answers so there's a few different types of films ones that are big blockbusters they make it they promoted themselves some of them get picked up just because they do well enough or it's interesting enough for the film the theaters or streaming services now think that they can make a go of it and then the vast majority don't i think the original question i had is just you know are these a lot of inexpensive or low budget feel or movies or is it people dump a lot of money into these films and they never go anywhere and it's you know it's a bigger gamble or a bigger risk because i think that was the original question it's a it's a it's a big gamble right like even hollywood movies like look at the lone ranger right like they spent um i don't know half a billion dollars making that movie and then they had to spend another half a billion dollars marketing it and it was a total turd and nobody watched it right and then there are films that like the film festivals especially the markets where a film might have been made for a couple hundred thousand dollars and then you know amazon or netflix comes in and buys it for seven or eight million dollars and releases it and they take the rights for three years right pay the filmmaker eight weeks or something or every quarter so um there's lots of different scenarios but i think nowadays it's about great quality content great stories and i don't think it matters as much what the budget is if you're like i agree there's there's a my myself my wife and myself love to watch movies it's always fun we have a great time and we we we consume lots of movies for most of what we do for date nights um but with that so now so you kind of have this realization you know you've been working in la circling back to now your journey just a bit but working in la you know you get to see the ins and the outs you get a great experience you get nominated for an emmy you all go through all those things or emmy or grammy i forget which one it was um and you know you have that thing and then you you've kind of come to this realization that you have a lot of films now that we've chatted a bit about them that don't get picked up for a myriad of reasons whether it's they don't have a pr strategy they don't if you know people don't watch them they can't you know whatever it is and some of them are great films and so how did you then kind of with that realization start to form a business around it or form a company around it well the first thing i noticed in getting to really be part of this all festival circuit is how many films are not picked up and how many great ones right where people mortgage their homes in order to make these movies and they are sweet and they are deep and they are you connect with them and they even many times have you know stars in them and yet they didn't get picked up and so i thought why don't i should start kind of naively my producing partner carlo and i decided let's start indie flicks which will be a marketplace for filmmakers to come it'll be non-exclusive they can put it up there we will we will assume the cost to getting it live and making it there this was pre-streaming so this was dvd on demand and streaming came in we pivoted and started to stream content which was obviously much more affordable for us but it was interesting the journey with that um these you know when you start a company you go in with these this great idea right because it's fulfilling a need and then you realize oh there's this whole other component that nobody told me about and that's the human condition right and when you are going in to help solve something no people are resistant to change it's unfamiliar they don't always trust it so the biggest thing was filmmakers were saying well i don't get it it's non-exclusive i can put it up there it's the opposite of hollywood first of all i don't trust you you're not a distributor you've never done this before so i i can't believe that and so the few that i could convince to come onto the platform we're basically like okay so i still own my rights i can take it down anytime i want you've just paid to put me up there and you're going to deliver and you're going to be transparent in your accounting and you're going to pay me my my portion we're going to rev share and i'm like yep and so then when they finally put it up there they're like okay where's my money and it's like well have you been letting people know it's there so that they can buy it because we're providing everything you else you need and we're letting people know it's there but you need to market to your audience you know who that audience is because you've made this movie you've been to the field yeah you raised the money like you know and they were like i'm not a marketeer i'm a storyteller so i'm like i okay i remember being in that space and then you know then you got the other people who are like because we were so early with streaming that they were like i'm not going to put my credit card online that just doesn't feel right it's like but you do when you buy a plane ticket you do for dvd like i don't understand right so it was just getting people to do that and then people were like i don't want anybody watching my movie on an iphone right because everyone that whole controversy like oh you can't watch mission you know like a big beautiful movie on an iphone that's just terrible you have to watch it in a theater on a big screen and so there was that whole conversation and then like the world economy went into the toilet in 2008 or seven and you know it's just like watching the world do its thing and knowing that filmmakers are people and they need mothers and managers and so like you can create this wonderful platform that is actually like you it's a little hard to believe it exists but it does so just getting them to actually trust it and to participate in it and then coaching them to say but you do know how to market because you raised money and you got into festivals and you got pee butts and seats and you like and then encouraging them to do that and it was just like wow like this is and then of course the other side is we grew so much that we had over 12 000 titles with worldwide rights and we streamed globally and we were content from 85 countries and i had so many filmmakers that my whole time was spent talking to them and they're like i've been up there for three months and i haven't seen any money i'm like well are you marketing it are you doing this you need to help me so then that was my world and i'm a filmmaker and i thought i'll just hang a shingle naively and empower filmmakers and we'll all be in this together and we'll learn from each other and i ended up in a role that wasn't what i expected and so today i now make content and distribute and create tools we learn from each other we share and it's well it's just way better now so but it took years to get there no and i and i think that's you know but that's a lot of the plight sometimes of an entrepreneur right you have a great idea first of all you have to figure out how to implement that idea but even once you do that it's now creating the market or convincing the market that there's a need for it and then once the market's convinced it's you know how do we now operationally launch this get it going and get people that are willing to pay for it they're willing to you know do something about it and they're willing to use it and you know that's that's both the fun of it the stress the frustration all wrapped in one so now as you've you know had that realization got things going started to work on and i think these also shifted we chatted a bit more about um you know do moving to kind of social impact films a bit more offline into the communities screening events and everything else or otherwise kind of looking for the community impact and that's kind of where you focus the core but now looking towards the future kind of where do you see the next six and i i know that the film industry in particular is a bit unknown between covet and theaters doing down going virtual streaming platforms with all that in mind kind of where do you see the next six to 12 months going for you well so pre-covet so there's two parts of our business one is the streaming side of the business and then like you mentioned the social impact side i decided to go back to to you know my own filmmaking roots and i got involved in social impact films which instead of i realized i got this one film it was about fine it was called finding kind it's about girl bullying and i watched into my living room as a rough cut they were looking for some finishing funds and i watched it and the first thing i felt was i wanted to talk to somebody and i didn't have anyone to talk to and i'd been bull so bullied as a kid that it just brought up so much for me and i thought wow so we ended up bringing in some finishing funds and instead i said can we just take it to schools to watch in schools and not put it online right now and let's just do that for a little while kind of like our version of a theatrical and then we'll put it online because we'll do that to just raise awareness and we took it up to my daughter's school and screened it for the sixth and seventh graders and it was so powerful that before we could even think about ways to go to other schools they were already calling us and that started this whole other side of the business where and i will tell you my stakeholders were scratching their heads they're like you're the ceo of a global streaming service and you're putting energy into little school screenings which was like yeah i know but there's this really strong demand so now cut to you know now we do you know 10 000 school screenings for a particular across 90 countries so it has just ballooned into a whole nother arm of the business that is purely offline but then let's cut to march when covet hit and we pivoted and now instead of sending out a link where they would basically use their venue and put their butts in seats and license our content to have a conversation whether it was about anxiety or bullying or empowerment or equality now they come to our platform we do virtual community screenings and we can house anywhere from like 30 people to 10 000 people in one event and then we're now getting them to cross over into the streaming side of the business where they can access 4 500 more titles of content for a purpose so i went in i let go you know two-thirds of our library because i really wanted to focus on being a platform of content for a purpose content for good bring us together build community with content and to learn about the story behind the story no and i think that's cool i think that's a certainly an exciting direction to go and something that you know is can be impactful and you know have be rewarding in and of itself well now as we've kind of chatted through your journey it's always a good transition i always have two questions i asked towards the end of the podcast we'll jump to those now so first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it so the worst business i actually have two all right go ahead one is i hired the person with the best resume but they didn't quite i didn't quite connect with them i just i had done so much on my own with my you know i'm an nyu dropout i don't have a marketing degree i don't have a business degree so i did so much on my own i kind of discounted my own sort of knowledge and wisdom and insight and experience of growing the business on my own with advisors and and people involved and i thought i need to bring someone in who can really help me take that business to the next level and instead of hiring someone that i just completely connected with i hired a person or people i've done it multiple times and i've now really learned my lesson who just had the resume right like they had done this before they were big time they did it in their sleep they were a phone call away from something and i just thought great this is the silver bullet and it was disastrous each time because it's they either needed too many people too many meetings a whole bunch of money to implement they didn't move fast enough they came from massive organizations and while that sort of like that person and that title being in this tiny little company looked like something i realized you know they didn't have the same ammunition the same tools that they had become accustomed to to you know operate so beautifully in that world they couldn't re they couldn't replicate that in our small world so um i i really now stick with my gut i go with the person with yes the skill set but mostly that i connect with like that we get each other because you're going to be like married to this person the other thing i would say a bad business decision which is really more of a personal thing is i used to when i was fundraising i would go into rooms and i would do all my homework and all my studying and i would do the heavy lifting and then the minute i crossed over into that room i gave up my power i felt like because they had money they knew more than me they had total control whatever they said was going to be the gospel and it took me a while to start to realize they're not always going to be have the right idea and and response they're not all going to be smarter than me and by the way 99.9 of them were men and 98 97 98 percent of them were white men which was fine and i would have not even noticed that until like in today's world but i would go in and i would literally leave my myself at the door and that's a mistake so no i definitely i mean those are both two lessons to learn from i think that you know definitely one's understandable how you make the mistake and also too i think learning from our stakes always our mistakes and how we can do better always makes us stronger so i think those are both are great or great insight now as we jump to the second question which i always ask is if you're now talking to a startup or a small business what would you know somebody that's just getting into a startup or small business what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them i think um harkening back to what i said in the beginning you have a great idea you can even have the funding for it but you need to leave room in the execution of that model to have that variance the human condition variance um you can do all you can pull all the data you can interpret all the data you can look at all the comps you can see all this stuff and i will tell you like you can you got to go with your gut you've got to do gut checks all the time and you got to leave a little room for something to happen and i don't mean be negative like it won't work that way so let's pad it's more like something amazing could happen in that little space that you leave for magic to happen but also be prepared for oh like for me when i started learning like the response from filmmakers from audience whether it was using technology or the entitlement of being live on something and where's the money like the education piece the familiarity piece the trust piece um is a big one and you have to leave room for that to be breathing and alive and pay attention to it and then um i would also just add as a little bonus be honest have integrity don't do things that put you out of integrity with yourself it will come back to bite you no and i think that that's that's another great insight and they're a great piece of advice in the sense that too often you're wanting to cut corners or you're wanting to do something that's in the gray area on the line and well it's just this one time and yet i think that having that integrity and being honest has a big impact that over oftentimes overlooked but is a major thing well as we wrap up and just as a as a reminder to viewers with this episode we do have the bonus question talking a little bit about intellectual property and what and uh your biggest question you have on it but as we wrap up before we uh jump to the bonus question and wrap up the normal episode um if people want to reach out they want to find out more they want to support the films you know the community impact they want to see the other other things you have going on they want to be an investor they want to be a customer they want to be an employee they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to connect up with you and find out more just go to indieflicks.com it's like netflix but indieflix uh f-l-i-x indeed i-n-d-i-e not like indie cars but i-n-d-i-e-s-l-i-x dot com and you can go in there there's a lot of information you can sure you can see the catalog of content you can watch but i think going into like the education sector of the site you will get to see our social impact films that were out and there's lots of opportunity to participate with us i'm looking for new people to film for my next film race which is a documentary about the impact of race and racism on our mental health and how we can raise the next generation to be anti-racist so i am looking for support on that project and for people who want to bring our other social impact temple films into their communities schools and organizations well awesome well i definitely encourage everybody to check out indie or in your indie films or indie flicks by going to indieflicks.com um super support your causes and and maybe even somebody will uh apply and be one of the people on your next movies who knows um but with that as we wrap up thank you for coming on the podcast for all of you that are now listeners if you have uh your own journey to tell feel free to go to inventiveguest.com apply to be on the podcast also if you're a listener make sure to click subscribe so you get notifications as all our new awesome episodes come out and leave us a review so new people can find us last but not least if you ever need help with your patents and trademarks feel free to go to strategymeeting.com and we're always here to help thank you again sheila it's been a pleasure now hold on and we'll do the bonus question for all of you listeners if you're wrapping up thanks for listening and now we'll go over to the bonus question so bonus question is a bit of you get it to turn the table so i usually pepper you with the questions and get it or pick your brain a bit and ask you about your journey but now with i do a lot of patents and trademarks have miller ip law so flipping the tables a bit what's your number one intellectual property question so i have um a program a film a product which is um one of our movies it's about mental it's a mental health film which has all these wrap around materials and a curriculum and a book and i have an opportunity to take it out into china and i want to protect it yeah i mean china's china is always a bit of a mystery or a bit of a wild west in the sense that you know they are i would say 20 years ago they just didn't care about any intellectual property if they could i remember so i lived in taiwan for a couple years with uh doing a religious mission for my my church and i'll get to your question but give me a side so you know my parents after i finished my mission we went and toured around taiwan for a bit we also went to china both places i remember you go to what they have night markets are and they would just have people that have stru or movies were strewn on blankets and it would be new movies that were still in the theater you could buy them and they were good quality like they were good films you could buy it you know they weren't legal but you could buy them on the street and they were selling them for five bucks and so you want to go watch a new movie you just go buy it for five bucks on the movie and uh so that was kind of their approach now they've now that as they've continued to enter the world stage they are looking to try and be more respectful of intellectual property and they're trying to actually recognize that you know if we're going to have people that are entering into our economy and wanting to sell things and be a bigger world player we have to have some sort of structure in place so with all of that as kind of a backdrop you know generally same within the us as anywhere movies are protected under copyrights meaning if you're gonna do it anything that's creative a creative work whether it's books movies or posters or anything else you're gonna file as a copyright so you can do that in the u.s if you do it in the u.s it protects in the u.s so you know anything that any of your customers if you're wanting to make sure that they don't infringe your copyrights or they're not they're taking on a big scale you file a copyright really that's your best bet in china and they're you know as far as that you can enforce it they're getting better but they're the wild west is still a bit of the wild west so it's better than nothing but you're going to just probably when you enter in china just have to have the recognition that it's going to be less you're going to have less options to protect it than you would in the u.s does that make sense yeah and there's no international kind of copyright um it's not almost ever and i can't think of an exception everything really with intellectual property is going to be country by country and so you have to file and that's kind of the same thing whether it's a trademark and branding let's say you wanted you know you have a great brand in the us you want to go expand out you have to file your trademarks in europe or china or whatever and so really everything is country by country because every country has a bit of their own laws they don't have their own kind of fee structure they have their own determination as to what's trademarkable or copyright or bowler patent so unfortunately there isn't just an international one that you can file and it is kind of just going on a country by country basis okay all right well with that thank you for your question this is fun a little bit to chat about intellectual property if you have if you or any of the listeners have any more questions feel free again to go to strategymeeting.com we can dive in a bit deeper and always chat but for there we'll wrap up the podcast thank you again sheila and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thanks devin you take care and take care [Music] everybody you

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