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Sep 17, 2020

David Marmor & Alok Mishra are the director-producer duo behind 1BR. Made for an extremely low budget, 1BR swept the VOD world by storm and not only made its way into Netflix’s top 10 movies but even landed at the number one movie on Netflix for some time. This is no small feat, especially for a first time director & producer duo. 

This interview actually spans two different time periods of this movie. I interviewed Alok & David about four months ago, right around the time 1BR was released on VOD, and then after 1BR reached the success it did, I spoke to Alok a second time to hear about the strategy and tactics he employed to bring 1BR to being number one on Netflix. What transpired was a very informative conversation, both about getting your indie film made but then making sure that it’s successful after its release, which I realized not enough people talk about. Many filmmakers mistakenly believe that their job is to make a great movie and that that movie will warrant positive Rotten Tomato scores and find its way onto major streaming platforms strictly on its own merit. This interview illustrates that this is simply not the case and ensuring the success of your movie is a hustle. Alok gives us a lot of details about his promotion strategy at the end of this interview. 

Overall, this is an extremely comprehensive and well-rounded interview, and I got a seriously huge amount out of it, so fair warning, get your notes app ready for this one. On that note, I’ll turn things over to Alok Mishra and David Marmor, producer & director of 1BR. 

Here’s a recap of key takeaways from this conversation with David & Alok. 

 

  • Get yourself a ride or die PA. The parking PA that David & Alok hired singlehandedly saved the movie when he chased down the stolen production truck housing necessary equipment. This is above and beyond going above and beyond. While we don’t advise you to encourage your crew to put themselves in any kind of danger, the willingness of this PA to engage in a fucking high-speed pursuit for the sake of the movie is what you want. These crew members are worth their weight in gold because they care about your film enough to stick their neck out for it, so if you’re lucky enough to find anyone like this as a PA, keep them happy and keep them close. 

 

  • If you’re a first-timer, find other first-timers. On 1BR, Alok was a first time producer, and David was a first time director - this created a serious spirit of adventure for the movie as both guys were embarking into the unknown and figuring things out on their own. It’s also common knowledge that first-timers will usually work even harder because of how much is riding on their first film. So if you’re a first time director, you’re probably not going to get Mark Duplass or Jordan Peele to produce your first movie - therefore, if you have the opportunity to work with a first-time producer, take it. First-timers often have something to prove, so this is a clear case of having skin in the game. First timer collaborations are great for this reason but, make sure you hire a VERY EXPERIENCED CREW and listen to them - because you first-timers likely aren’t going to know what the fuck you’re doing on set half of the time, so you’ll need people around you who do. Alok and David made sure their crew was very experienced to ensure they were in good hands. 

 

  • Track your lessons. When you're new to filmmaking, so many lessons are going to present themselves, and they’re going to do so so fast and in such hectic moments that you’ll likely forget most of them by the time you wrap. This is such a shame because you’re going to want to carry these lessons onto the next move that you make. To remedy this, David kept a text document of lessons learned on every single day of filming 1BR and would take a few minutes each day to write them down and reflect on them. By the end of the movie, he was left with a wealth of lessons and insights which he can turn to for his next movie. When you’re in production, DO THIS. It’ll take you 2 to 5 minutes a day, but it will be priceless wisdom that you can use throughout your entire filmography. 

 

  • Make sure everyone has fun on set. As crazy as things may have gotten, Alok and David made sure to keep their set an engaging and overall enjoyable experience. Countless directors have spoken about the importance of keeping a high-energy and communal set, but few have spoken about the dividends this will pay in the long run. A lot of sets are brutal and un-enjoyable; if yours is a positive experience, your cast and crew will appreciate you and do what they can to help the movie out. This was particularly true for 1BR, who’s cast made themselves very available for multiple interviews and articles, all of which collectively helped the movie get to number one on Netflix. So beyond it being the right thing to do, a healthy and fun set will create a community of people who will naturally want to help you fight for the movie’s success.

 

  • Sell 100 movies a day. After 1BR was released on VOD, Alok decided that he would commit to selling at least 100 copies of the movie every single day. This led him down a very focused path of ensuring the movie got a fresh Rotten Tomato score by pitching the movie to accredited reviewers and getting the movie as much exposure as possible through tons of blogs and podcast interviews. This was a hustle but damn, did it pay off. When attempting to pull off something as big as what Alok & David set out to do, it often helps to break down these goals into smaller quantifiable daily tasks. So if you’re ambitious and not sure where to start, start by setting out to sell 100 movies a day and watch the momentum from there. 

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