Exclusive: John Schneider & Alicia Allain Talk CineFlix and Its Benefits to the Indie World
Writer/Director John Schneider and Producer Alicia Allain discuss their new Digital On-Demand service and how it offers unprecedented opportunity to indie filmmakers
I had the pleasure of interviewing John Schneider and Alicia Allain. Mr. Schneider has been around the business for a long time, primarily working as an actor for most of his career. He’s most popularly known for his roles as Bo Duke on “The Dukes of Hazzard,” Johnathan Kent on “Smallville,” and Jim Cryer on “The Haves and Have Nots.” Now, he has been working on the other side of the camera, directing and writing such titles as “Like Son,” “Smothered,” and “Collier & Co.” To add more to his resumé, Schneider and his producing partner, Alicia Allain, have founded John Schneider Studios, which is located in Holden Louisiana.
Ms. Allain started producing at a young age, beginning with Gary Walkow’s “Notes from the Underground” in 1992. Since then she has worked as a key hair stylist in Hollywood and has achieved nine credits as a producer; two of which being John Schneider films, with a third in the works. This dynamic duo of John Schneider and Alicia Allain has lead to the founding of John Schneider Studios and the Louisiana Film Fellowship, two organizations that are all about giving amateurs and indie filmmakers plenty of education, opportunities, and exposure within the business. Just wait until you hear the story about the 16-year-old intern they had during one of their film-shoots. It’s a perfect example of the wonderful opportunities these two incredible people are capable of providing.
Now they have a new endeavor: CineFlix: Digital On-Demand, and I’m going to let Mr. Schneider and Ms. Allain tell you all about it.
John, tell me a little bit about how it feels to be on the writer/director/producer side of thing.
John: “It’s fantastic. Actually, I’m a writer and director. Alicia is the producer. Producing is hard. In producing, there are numbers involved, and there’s paperwork involved, and there’s a lot of things that are immovable involved. In what I do, if something is not working, I can shift it around and change it. I can re-write a scene, or I can suggest different intentions for actor types, or as an actor I can just do it a different way. There’s no different way to do it in Alicia’s world. It’s like this has to be done. The paperwork has to be filed, and I don’t know how she does it… What I do is easy. I play in the sand, and she counts the individual grains.”
Alicia, has has the experience of being a producer been for you?
Alicia:”I actually started producing my first film, which was an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s ‘Notes from the Underground,’ in 1992. So, I started producing at a very young age. I was very lucky, and then worked for Robert Evans at Paramount for awhile. And then John and I connected a couple years ago with the same intention, very much in the independent spirit, and we’ve been in tandem ever since.
Alicia: “Wildcatting. That’s a great word. And also going back to what our roots are, being able to tell stories and not being constricted and all that good stuff.”
You’ve got a new streaming service called CineFlix: Digital On-Demand. Will some of your latest film endeavors, “Anderson Bench” and “Like Son,” be available for viewing? If so, how will the service work for viewers wanting to watch them, as well as other films on the website?
John:”‘Like Son’ is available now, but we’re not going to start streaming it until the 14th (of July), which is very soon. I’m all about having a bunch of people watch the same thing at the same time. I think maybe because my background is, when I was 8 years old, I started in theater. So I love the notion that everybody is gasping at the same time, everybody is laughing at the same time, and everybody is enjoying a story well told at the same time. So, ‘Like Son’ will be available right now, as we’re watching this, it’s available right now. You can get it from the John Schneider Studios Facebook Page or you can go to www.cineflixdod.com And “D.O.D.” is Digital On-Demand, because it’s not Video On-Demand. I don’t know why they call it that. It’s Digital On-Demand. And then from that point that’s our maiden voyage, our flagship is ‘Like Son,’ starring Don Shanks and Joe Chrest. It’s a fantastic film. That’s the first one, and then from that point on that film will be available anytime someone wants to purchase it from our D.O.D. platform. So, it’ll be available, and then we plan on releasing, like with anybody else, as that starts to sell and starts to sell more and more, we’ll start to add different titles to our D.O.D. from us, but we also have…
Alicia: “We also have a Library, and we’ve also created the CineFlix Fest, which is a traveling four-walling film festival. And we’re doing eight cities in eight weeks… slate of films. What’s really interesting about Cineflix Fest is that it’s up to the filmmaker, along with us, to help promote, and the filmmaker actually gets a portion at the door, along with the exhibitor. So, it’s something very unprecedented in the indie world.”
John: “And when they get accepted to CineFlix Fest, they also, by virtue of being accepted to the festival, they have a D.O.D. system behind them, which individually costs you thousands of dollars. I know, because setting it up has cost us thousands of dollars. So, we’re doing that so you don’t have to. You,independent filmmaker, don’t have to.”
That’ was actually a part of my next question. With the Louisiana Film Fellowships and the slogan of CineFlix being “Providing Indie Filmmakers Unprecedented Opportunity,” it’s obvious you two are all about giving the up-and-comers plenty of education and exposure within the business. Do indie filmmakers have to go through the film festival to potentially get on the website? Can they submit through another avenue?
Alicia: “They can eventually submit through other avenues, but I think it’s going to be more advantageous, because you’re going to get the experience of visiting and you’re going to have more of a lateral move whenever we travel.”
John: “We’re helping you four-wall your own film, by virtue of four-walling a film festival. So, it would not be in the filmmaker’s best interest just to submit, be accepted, and not show up, because there would be no butts in seats and the number one reason why you do this is to see your film on the big screen. See it on the big screens in eight different cities, several different times in each city, and you’ll have the experience of having a group of people watch your film at the same time, plus at the end of that you’ll get a percentage of the ticket sales, which nobody ever does at a film festival. Film festivals are wonderful, but they do seem to be designed, at least in part, to get money from the independent filmmaker and never really to give any back.”
John: “They provide an opportunity, and there may be a buyer… but there is no guarantee of any distribution, there’s certainly no percentage of ticket sales, and there’s on relationship with the exhibitor, which is the theater owner. CineFlix Fest you have all of those things, and I’m excited about that, because I have four-walled a film before. You (to Alicia) have four-walled a film before. It’s a lot of heavy lifting. It’s very difficult, and it’s very rewarding, but it never makes you any money. It only cost you money. This one at least has the potential of making you money on your film right away.”
So, for CineFlix Fest, what are the categories going to be? Is there going to be a short film category? A writing category? Documentary category?
Alica: “It’s actually non-traditional. So, we do have a short film. We also have feature length, but we only have three awards. So it’s Audience Choice, Box Office, and then the Robert Evans Award.”
What are you considering the Robert Evans award? Is that like the highest award you can get at the festival?
Alicia: “Actually it’s the biggest risk-taker. The biggest Gambler.”
John: “The one that makes you go, ‘WHAT!?!?’
I’ve heard at the “Like Son” Q & A, you’re going to be talking about how actors can be cast in a John Schneider film. Will CineFlix provide any opportunities for actors to potentially be cast in a John Schneider film?
John: “Well yeah, we’re going to be there. So resumés are always cool, and always good to gather those. But also the other filmmakers will be there too. There’s a really special feeling about seeing someone and going, ‘Hey, I hope they can act. That’s the right person for…’ And we’ve cast everything we’ve done through relationships or people we’ve seen, and it’s a great feeling to provide a job to someone who is excited about the acting profession.”
Alicia: “Or also inspire. That’s what I think is really cool, to watch some of the artists that’t we’ve been working with grow, you know what I mean?”
John: “Yeah. We intern as well. Our last film we did was one month out, and we had our second assistant camera man was 16-years old, an intern from Walker High School, which is about 16 miles from the studio. It’s how he spent his summer vacation, and I told him one day, ‘Look I hope you look back on this as one of your best summer vacations, not the one you waisted.'”
Alicia: “And we also have old friends and old relationships in the business that come in and help out, and then they help mentor other departments within their own department.”
In five years, where do you see CineFlix in the world of Hollywood and in the universe of Digital On-Demand?
John: “I quite honestly see CineFlix as being that thing that Hollywood says, ‘Wait a minute, what was that? What happened to my lunch? Who just ate my lunch?’So, like every great success, it will appear to be an overnight sensation. Alicia and I have been in this business for a very long time, and have seen how not to do it from a filmmaker’s standpoint. I have a film out right now that has been out for almost six months, and I’ve gotten no accounting yet on how it has been doing. That’s very frustrating to me. Now, I’m certain it’s letter perfect to the contract, but I’m a kid, I’m 56, but I’m a kid who made a movie who you said, ‘Hey, I want to sell your movie!’ And I want you to call me and say, ‘Hey John, It’s doing great!’ or ‘Hey John, we need a little push…’ I want some information. We (CineFlix) will give independent filmmakers information. That’s going to be the difference between CineFlix Fest/CineFlix D.O.D. and everybody else. We are set up and designed to service the filmmaker, to keep the filmmaker involved in the entire process, not to treat the filmmaker like they are a necessary evil that needs to be dealt with when the contract says so. We won’t do that. That will set us apart. It already has.”
Remember to head over to CineFlix D.O.D. on July 14, 2016 for the premiere of John Schneider’s latest film “Like Son,” and there will be a Q & A with the filmmakers afterwards! Be sure to have your questions ready, because John Schneider and Alicia Allain start filming their next movie on July 17th!
I want to once again thank Mr. John Schneider and Ms. Alicia Allain for taking the time out of their busy schedules to answer my questions and be wonderful interviewees. If you want a direct link to their upcoming projects and perhaps read more about them, links to their IMDB pages, CineFlix D.O.D., CineFlix Fest, and John Schneider Studios will be posted below.