Friday, June 2, 2023

Crowdfunding is for Interacting, NOT Begging

I have lots of friends. Some of them like my movies. Some want to support me no matter what the movie. Some are just fine-feathered, patrons of the arts. But I don't have a million friends! Yet!

Crowdfunding often seems like begging friends and family for a favor. But pretty soon, those favors are used up. I don't want my social media to have daily reminders of my projects. Where's the value added?

Business success comes from creating and delivering value!

Now, if you like Westerns and want to see more Westerns, then the value-add is me helping ensure more Westerns get made. Quality Westerns, morality tales, battles between good and evil.

So, here's a crowdfunding effort to Pre-Sell my Western, Vengeance Trail - to finish creating the extra value allowed by new digital tools, and deliver it to the world.

And interact with the fans! So, leave a comment and I'll respond.

I just want fans of Westerns to learn about Vengeance Trail and tell their friends. And, if enough fans are found, my friends at and I will make more Westerns.

I will be sending out an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) and finding bloggers and podcasters who want to discuss the movie and the making of Vengeance Trail. If you know any, please send them my way.

Thanks, Ian Max

Thursday, May 25, 2023

TBT: Vengeance Trail, and How Violent Is It Really?

I'm hoping to launch Pre Sales of my Western, VENGEANCE TRAIL, on June 1.

So, I've been asking friends for feedback on this Sneak Preview. One friend said:

Ian, I watched it. Just a quick thought...there is a lot of shoot 'em up [in the trailer]. A lot. My sound was low as I was watching so I noticed it quickly, especially towards the end. I'm not sure if that's your intent, I know it's a Western...but just a heads up. Otherwise, I am mighty impressed!!!! 

Great note! Yes, I hadn't remembered there being so much shooting when I was last familiar with the movie, when we shot it in 2002-03 and released it in 2006. It's one of those things where, recreating violence on set, whether it be blood effects or stunts, can be fun and funny in the context of a group of friends making a movie, but when put together with dramatic storytelling, sound effects and music, becomes a sobering depiction of, well, violence.

Yes, Vengeance Trail is violent, but it also has heart. It's a traditional morality tale with period accurate sets, costumes, and dialogue. Will we make a less violent version by changing the color of blood from red to brown and cutting back some of the language? Not likely at this stage. But I'm open to suggestions.

Also, initially I had no intention of creating a new trailer from scratch and just wanted to match better footage to the existing trailer and give it a little upgrade. Since I couldn't modify the length or structure of the trailer due to the music being mixed with the dialogue and effects, I replaced some title cards with new footage and did the best I could. In retrospect, I do notice how much shooting there is, and that it overpowers the dramatic conflict of the story. 

Here's the current trailer, an upgraded version of the original. Here's a tamer version, because certain distributors have rules about violence.

Now that I'm planning a marketing and pre sales strategy for Vengeance Trail, I'm considering creating new trailers, behind the scenes insights using stunts outtakes and horse moments, and upgrading the documentary about the vintage guns that's on the DVD. But this all takes time and I need to start the sales funnel in order to hire an editor.

As another friend responded:

Make the audience/customer the hero of the story. 

What is at stake? 

Why should the funder back this project? 

What is the urgency?  

What's in it for them? 

What is your call to action? 

Howdy, Western lover! What are you going to watch after you’ve binge watched Yellowstone and all its spinoffs? Hollywood Guns and Props has all sorts of props, costumes, and screenplays just laying around. Think of all the other Westerns we could have made if we’d made a profit with Vengeance Trail the first time. Purchase the digitally upgraded Vengeance Trail in advance and be part of the excitement of helping release amazing Westerns to the world.

Hope you enjoy Vengeance Trail! Please put your notes in the comments.


Thursday, May 18, 2023

TBT: Bad Parenting for Good Child Performances

Babies can't act; they can only be honest and authentic with their current emotions, and they're always in the moment. 

Case in point, "Sling Baby" by Kevin Willson, which shot in my backyard. If for one split second, a mother in the audience thought that baby wasn't happy, the filmmakers would have received so much hate email (even more if it involved a dog, just ask Kevin). So, how did we get that baby to fly through the air and grab that chip with a smile? By keeping him happy, of course. Paying attention to his comfort and safety (even while being puppeteered on strings), meeting all his play and nutrition needs, and good ole Pavlov's conditioning. I'll save this for another post.

But if the child actors are a little bit older, how do you get the performances you want? Same thing (because they're still too young to want to learn the craft of acting): keep them playing, know their hunger and sleep needs, and practice bad-parenting manipulation. 

And cast your own children. Now that our children are in high school, and seem well adjusted, I feel I can share some behind the screen secrets of "Who Wants Lemonade?" The original idea was to shoot the scene of Jackson (age 5) and Kiran (age 3) right before lunch, when they'd be most hungry for Doritos' snacks. Jackson was typically a mean older brother, so we (my wife Clarice and I) hoped they'd run out of chips, then get greedy and hopefully start arguing, and then Mom would come out to break up the fight and lean on the table, which would flip into the air and throw the lemonade everywhere. 

Why? Because this was for Doritos' "Crash the Super Bowl" ad competition and all the best spots had a surprising twist at the end. So, I rigged the table to have a fulcrum so that everything would toss into the air and cause chaos. The lemonade jug and the bowl of lemons were lightweight plastic.

I knew with child actors, I would not be able to repeat anything, so I had three cameras overing the wide and an angle on each child. I coached the actors to stay in character and knew I could always turn the camera around on them to get an overlapping, continuity shot for editing. All was going swimmingly and on the 3rd take, Kiran said the most adorable thing; "Who wants lenomade?" 

Then on take four, Kiran leaned on the shaky table and spilled the ice-cold lemonade all over her!

No big deal, we rescued her quickly and got her happy again in another outfit. But we only had one of that pink dress and I loved that 3rd take. So we rinsed and dried it, which took 45 minutes. By then both kids were hungry and we had to feed them. Now their attention spans were gone. And Kiran was cranky. By the time we got Jackson and Kiran out to the set, neither were too cooperative or collaborative.

So, I skipped to the second half of the spot where they needed to be upset. You know what I did, I made _____ out of ___. The new plan was to do reshoots in a week when they would be happy again. Kiran was tired so we knew it wouldn't take much to set her off, and we gave her some cutie orange slices to persuade her to stay in her chair. With all three cameras rolling, we asked Jackson to take an orange slice from Kiran and hop on his go-cart and ride off. To his credit, Jackson knew this was wrong and didn't want to do it. We, the Bad-Parenting Filmmakers, persuaded him to do it. For the art! Amiright?

The rest is history. Kiran only lasted long enough for the Lady, Joanie Marx, to try cheer her up with the dog. A week later, we shot the missing parts with happy Jackson and happy Kiran. There's one line that I tried to ADR with Kiran, when she tells the lady "No," because I had too much road noise from the freeway near our house and she was so quiet. I got her to repeat it a few times outside her daycare, and it's better but obviously replaced audio.

Joanie asked for an extended take for her reel, so I extended Kiran's crying to make this really dramatic spot. Not for the art, for the laugh!

Bad Parenting to the rescue!


Saturday, May 13, 2023

Screenwriting With a Crowd - Run Cholo Run Experiment

"Run Cholo Run" is an award winning short film with over 2 million views, and 6000+ followers on Facebook.

Run Cholo Run is a completed feature screenplay. Korstiaan ‘Kors’ Vandiver wrote the first draft from his treatment. Ian Max Eyre wrote the second draft, and we polished it until it was good. Then Tanya “Cha Cha” Sandoval-McMahon wrote the final draft and brings the voice, heart and perspective of a born-and-raised in Los Angeles, Mexican-American Latina to the story. The screenplay is getting great.

The experiment is to offer fans insight into the process of developing a movie, starting with the screenplay. We are going to upload a few pages each week (pages 1-6 here) and see if there are any superfans interested in critiquing the story, from structure to character to authenticity, etc. And also collect anecdotes from the fans.

The movie The Martian was made this way, in the sense that the novel writer posted pages online and grew a fanbase which helped get his book turned into a movie with Matt Damon.

Having been rebuffed by literary agents when trying to get prior books published, Weir decided to put the book online in serial format one chapter at a time for free at his website. At the request of fans, he made an Amazon Kindle version available...

Let's see what happens,


Previous Run Cholo Run blog post.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

TBT: Cracking a Rib for Matthew Lillard

Short throwback today. I once stunt doubled Matthew Lillard (@MatthewLillard) getting blasted across a room by a UFO. If you'd like to know more about what went wrong and what I learned from the experience, head over here.

And while you're there, check out some other behind the scenes insights from How2Stunts. And leave a comment or a question. I love talking shop.


Thursday, April 27, 2023

TBT: Getting Gored by a Plastic Bull

Ever wonder how characters defy gravity or experience extreme violence - safely?

It's all an illusion. Except, sometimes it hurts. 

Here's behind the scenes of a stunt I did on a Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest spec that I wrote and directed, called "Toreadoritos."  The previous owner of our house had hung a kick bag off an eye that mounted in the ceiling. So, I designed a stunt around that. And I cast someone whom I could stunt double. And then I trained four people to run out the door fast enough to unwind me and lift me several feet in the air, then dump me onto some toys. Ouch. 

My son Jackson, age 11, was a trooper. He dove against a decelerator device attached to a harness under his wardrobe a dozen times before we were happy with where his plastic horns gored my acting double. As you can see, the timing of Jackson goring me didn't work on this behind the scenes take, so I had to pound the ground again. 

More info about the stunt rigging here.

Was it worth it? It got 780K views on YouTube, so yes. In Ad Sales that was $290, so not really. 

When I found footage for this stunt, I also found other footage, inlcuding some cute previz with my kids and wife, before we cast her acting double, lol. 

The parents were our friends Skylar Payne and Renee Mytar. The cute girl is my daughter Kiran, age 8 at the time. 

Stay tuned. Ian

Saturday, April 22, 2023


Ever heard of Shark Tank-like pitching for Faith Driven Businesses? I just spent two days in Dallas with the winners of the Tampa Lion's Den pitch competition, LOOR.TV. The Lion's Den connects investors with faith driven entrepreneurs. LOOR.TV is creating a game-ified, equity-crowdfunding, streaming platform aimed at funding and sharing movie, TV and documentary content that young people actually want to watch.

The business model for independent filmmakers is broken. It's a winning-the-lottery mentality where they beg, borrow and steal to make a movie that's hopefully not too compromised in apparent production value (making $100K look like $1M) and then sells for a profit at film festivals or to streaming channels. The chances of making money this way is super low, and I keep meeting exhausted filmmakers that are sad when they can't find a distributor that will spend the same kind of sweat equity selling their movie as they spent to make it. So, they give their precious baby away, but at least the movie they slaved on for years is out there for people to see. Repeat after me: It's a movie BUSINESS.

The smart (and Biblical) way to finance a movie is to count the cost in advance and pre-sell the movie before making it. Kinda like a high-rise apartment complex will determine a need and start pre-renting apartments first. Ideally, filmmakers copy the model of Angel Studios and raise the fans in advance who pre-purchase tickets to the movie. LOOR TV is pursuing this model. This is hard work. I helped produce two features that are upside down for the investors. I intend to remedy this.

The problem with most Christian movie distributors is they don't know how to reach young people, nor do they even try. So we have generations of film goers who are being spoon fed junk food by a Hollywood world view that is in conflict with Biblical values. There's some good content out there, some neutral, but tons of woke content that clearly contradicts God's truth, goodness and beauty.

And young people get all the content they want on social media for free, so why should they pay for my movie? What's my value-add to them?

Eyre Films and LOOR TV have a lot in common. How to cancel Cancel Culture with slightly irreverent movies that appeal to young people (likely mostly to young men, but niche down to find those super fans). As I reactivate the fans who have watched "Run Cholo Run" 2.2M times, but with music I didn't license :(, and promote the digitally enhanced re-release of Vengeance Trail, I will be learning to find superfan audiences for Prey For Mason, Smash and Run, and Puberty From Heck! all in various stages of development. Stay tuned. 

Meanwhile, here's Jason Farley and Marcus Pittman enjoying a pitch I made for a Romans 6:23 monster comedy that might have to be hosted in Finland, lol! It will definitely cause Cancel Culture to get triggered!


Crowdfunding is for Interacting, NOT Begging

I have lots of friends. Some of them like my movies. Some want to support me no matter what the movie. Some are just fine-feathered, patrons...