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#003: Brad Cummings

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

Brad Cummings graduated from Pepperdine University, planted a church in Malibu, launched a construction and landscaping business, all before becoming one of the most notable independent book publishers in the world and becoming a movie producer.

Sounds like an interesting journey huh? There's a reason he was set on this path.

He co-authored a book called The Shack, and after being turned down by twenty different publishers Brad and his co-authors decided to self-publish the book. They sold over one-million copies out of Brad's garage. Currently, The Shack has sold over twenty million copies and has been published in 41 different languages. It was #1 on the New York Times bestseller list for over 150 weeks straight. In 2017 The Shack was released as a feature film starring Octavia Spencer & Sam Worthington and grossed over ninety six million dollars worldwide.

Most recently, Brad founded Shiloh Road Publishers, teaming up with the award-winning, premier design firm Koechel Peterson & Associates, and served as the General Editor for The Founders’ Bible.

Currently, Brad is actively writing several different books and screenplays.

You can connect with him on Facebook. Or his website, Windblown Media, and you can find out more about The Shack movie on Facebook.

Brad Cummings

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Transcribed Episode

Unknown Speaker  0:00  

You're listening to The Groove with Devin Pense.

Unknown Speaker  0:05  

You have to take risks.

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There will be disappointments and failures and disasters. As a result of taking these risks,

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This task was acquainted to you. And if you do not find a way new, no one will. Great moments are born from great opportunity. That's what you have here. In the end. That's all we really are is stories. Stories are what our lives are made up of stories how we remember people and stories make us feel a little less alone in the world.

Unknown Speaker  0:43  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the groove podcast with Devin PENSE, where I bring you interviews with people who have experienced great loss or failure, and the pivotal moments that changed the course of history in their lives. My guest on the show today is Brad Cummings. Brad is an author and filmmaker. Do sir He co authored a book called the shack. And after being turned down by 26 publishers, Brad and his other two co authors decided to self publish the book. And right out of Brad's garage, they sold over a million copies. Currently, the shack has sold over 20 million copies, and has been published in 41 different languages. It was number one on the New York Times bestseller list for over 150 weeks straight, and recently was released as a feature film starring Octavia Spencer and Sam Worthington. Most recently, he founded Shiloh road publishers, teaming up with award winning premiere design firm, MICHELLE Peterson and Associates, and served as general editor for the founders Bible. Currently, Brad is actively writing several books and screenplays. You can connect with him on Facebook, Brad Cummings, or his website wind blown and you can find out more about the shot movie on Facebook at the shack movie, be sure to head over to the groove podcast comm for the show notes from this episode. And without further ado, here's Brad Cummings on the groove podcast. So Brad, thank you so much for being on. Absolutely. Really happy to have you. I'm excited to have the chance to tell your story. Because I'm always interested in stories where, from the outside, it can be seen as Oh, he or she was an overnight success. But in reality, it was a gut wrenching journey that most wouldn't even make it through. So having said that, let's start out with how and why you came to LA.

Unknown Speaker  2:32  

I came out to LA with a sense of just going like it was the first time I was a college student. I was looked as a tennis player, I was looking to play tennis. I was looking to find a good school going out to a bunch of East Coast schools and I just found them stuffing i didn't i didn't fit. And I just kind of was more of a like a West Coast kid.

Unknown Speaker  2:53  

Right, right. You grew up where you grew up.

Unknown Speaker  2:56  

I'm kind of a mud but I spent a bunch of my growing up in Seattle Mercer Island. Oh Yeah, Pacific Northwest and I that I did a tour of duty for my high school years in Wisconsin. Or as cold as cold polar bears don't even show up. Oh man. Mosquitoes is the state bird. Yeah. It's it's interesting is wonderful, but I was glad to escape. And so I come to Pepperdine and it looks like Club Med. I had a hard time taking it seriously because I was like a straight A student and I'm like, this looks like surf school. Right? Oh, right. They do. Battle of the network stars on out of the baseball field. They just go like really? This can't be a school, right? But it's the first time that I ever felt like I was supposed to be somewhere. I'd never had that feeling before and it was like I just knew it's like of all the places I could have gone. I could have gone anywhere. Right? I felt I was supposed to be here. And yet they were number two in the nation. And I was a good tennis player but I was not exactly thinking I was gonna go pro. I'm gonna like me shag balls. I didn't think I would But I just felt like I was supposed to be this. So I went, Okay. I didn't find the academics challenging, but I really kind of wanted to challenge myself and I was being drawn towards creative stuff.

Unknown Speaker  4:11  

You are a talented tennis player. Yeah. No, I mean, you gave lessons to

Unknown Speaker  4:15  

Yeah, that's hiring these people through through college I taught tennis and yeah, as the the human backboard for a lot of less than amazing tennis.

Unknown Speaker  4:28  

But who had a lot of money? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  4:30  

And they loved feeling good about their tennis. So I would have to put the ball exactly right back where they can hit it in their sweet spot, which is a really difficult challenge to behold that is just burned. It passed up. Right? Right. Um, but I mean that that was a blast, but I was looking at school and I'm just going like, I want to do something creative, but I don't really want to be graded on it. I still want to have like, a I feel like I'm awesome. Right? Right. subjective Right. Right. And you're gonna like, really you're gonna give me a letter grade based on your subjectivity, right does not seem fair. You know, it seems like dangerous spot. But that's really where I wanted to kind of challenge myself. And as as a as a job, I did all the audio visual stuff around campus, I had keys to everywhere, and I ran all the sound systems. And so I just as a job I learned a ton about audio and video that just, I never never knew before, right. And I just found Oh, I really love this. This is this is a lot of fun writing was a blast. Yeah. And so when it came to the major, I ended up picking TV broadcasting,

Unknown Speaker  5:39  

at what point and on the timeline. Did you do that? I mean, somewhere

Unknown Speaker  5:42  

around fresh middle end of my freshman year, I realized, okay, the academics are not all that challenging here. I can test out a whole bunch of courses, which I did, yeah. So that I had a whole bunch of electives. And then I came up with this great idea. This was sophomore year. I wanted to say To Channel Islands on the sale of Channel Islands class for eight units, and I got them to pay me and to do a documentary and then to pay me then it was awesome. That was a class

Unknown Speaker  6:11  

channel. I really

Unknown Speaker  6:12  

the gelato is Oh my god. I know I did.

Unknown Speaker  6:14  

I had like 24 hours of footage back when they had like a big VHS like, you know, monster. Yeah, I was one man producing machine man. And it was an absolute blast,

Unknown Speaker  6:27  

right? Do you think you enjoyed it? Because you were good at it? Or do you think you enjoyed it because it was just something different than you were doing before?

Unknown Speaker  6:39  

You know, I think I was drawn to telling stories because I saw how they impacted people. And I think my deepest passion is I wanted to impact people. And so I started to get connected to stories and I went, the most powerful way to change people is to tell an immersive story that they're just they I kind of looked at the movie theaters I went, I think that's where most people go to worship. Mm hmm. You know, it's like today it's like it's about any, any screen. But But back then, right? There was the silver screen, like, Whoa, that's where we go that was that. The World Series of, of communicating and, and I looked at that I met people actually pay money and they want to say move me.

Unknown Speaker  7:21  

So what was your path? And so once you started doing some of these docks and stuff, and I realize that

Unknown Speaker  7:28  

was all

Unknown Speaker  7:29  

graduate, I'm in Malibu, I know a bunch of people. And then when all of a sudden the entire industry is shut down, and I find myself skills but with no place to go. I knew a whole bunch of people that probably could have been very helpful in my advancing my career, but nothing was going on and I just kind of went out. I'm lost.

Unknown Speaker  7:53  

Right? So what did you do?

Unknown Speaker  7:55  

Well, we ended up planting a church of all things. It's not like what I was thinking. about doing. But there was a sense of going like, I want to impact people's lives we'd been freshly impacted by a couple other people that had really invested in sown in us during our time in college, we count. Let's just do more of that. And so we ended up planting a church in Malibu And surprisingly, within a few years, we saw over about 3000 people get saved in a short span of time and a place that most people do not. I mean, they, they equate Malibu more with Sodom and Gomorrah than they do with anything with quote, a little move of gods, right. It's a bizarre place and

Unknown Speaker  8:34  

a lot of people's minds meet. Malibu is a fantasy world. It's a place that they've never been. So they have they only have known about it through television or famous Malibu. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  8:45  

is a normal little kind of suburb escape from LA. But it has a bunch of really wealthy people, right, and

Unknown Speaker  8:53  

then a beautiful and a bunch of

Unknown Speaker  8:54  

celebrity types. Yeah, but they're very normal. Right? Right. The fun thing going to Pepperdine is you go into the grocery store. And there's all the people you watch on TV.

Unknown Speaker  9:06  

Yeah. So you, you got married somewhere in between there. And then right? Yeah. And then so you planted a church. at it. When

Unknown Speaker  9:14  

we planted a church in Malibu, it went marvelously successful for a number of years, it was kind of like one of the hottest little places in LA as far as we had a whole bunch of young people. God just dropped the bomb of the power of music and worship on the place. We were gifted with just some incredible musicians that just came out of nowhere. And it was a magnet for folks. But along with that, I also then had to sort of at one time, blow the whistle on some financial wrongdoings and you go like, Guys, aren't we supposed to be the ones that wear the white hats, right? You give half your life to building something and someplace and all of a sudden it feels like, Oh my gosh, this has gone totally wrong. Hmm. And so it's like, Okay, well, you know, the gospel is all about Out setting wrong things right. So this applies, we'll just use the gospel right. And I had no idea that they would turn the bus and just plow me over. Right. And I was not ready for that. I did not I didn't really see that coming. He almost like well, how stupid were you? I think pretty naive and stupid going. Aren't we supposed to do the right thing? I'm assuming you at the end of the day want to do the right thing to write? But not every that doesn't apply to everybody now

Unknown Speaker  10:32  

not especially I mean cuz you know, and a lot of cases and we won't dive into this too heavy, but you know, a lot of cases churches business. And a lot of people see it that way.

Unknown Speaker  10:42  

It is the business of religion. And if you can be honest about it, great. If you're gonna, if you're not going to be honest about it, then that's That's right. That's the frustration reality. Right. It's like we had a great business going, but nobody was trying to get super rich doing this. It's just I think When, when you've kind of pretended to a certain measure the fear of becoming fully honest with what that is. That's just it's too hard for people and doesn't matter what industry you're talking about. Right? Right. If you're not, if you're not building on reality, when all of a sudden that House of Cards may come down, that's the moment where they may go, I'm going to kill you, right? And you just go like, Oh, that's there's other options. Yeah. A lot of other options. So when you more or less brought this up, and they sort of are like, we have nothing to do with this. What did it what was next for the next decade, our allies was just completely up ended. I went from having a stable paycheck to having none. Having just bought a house, and three kids, a wonderful wife, and I was supposed to be the provider. Right? And it's like, that's not working. Yeah. And you're just gonna like Southern California. How do you do that? And it became a day to day journey. about learning who really is the source of everything, right? And I wouldn't trade it for anything now, back then I would have traded it for anything, because I was terrified. It's like I was at white knuckle crew, and you just go and like, I had to find out what it is that I really trusted in. Mm hmm. And I didn't know God is my source. I didn't know him as my provider, I was the, I'm gonna work hard, and I'm gonna work my deal. And I still worked hard and all that, but I just realized my need was greater than my ability to supply. And so it brought me to a place of real dependence. And I finally learned I think some of the things about what it is to trust that God loves you that he's for you. And he'll meet you right in the mess of whatever is the mess whether you created or someone imposed

Unknown Speaker  12:48  

it on you. Right, right. But you still, you still worked hard right now. What are you doing with your creative vibes and

Unknown Speaker  12:58  

construction and landscaping I did things that I had never learned how to do before. Yeah, every day I went to work. And when you're cutting into a wall and there could be electricity, and you don't know all this stuff. It's not as it's one terrifying because there's someone who's home. This is right. I need to put back in the right shave. Right, right. But then there's, I am doing something I've never done before. And for a lot of people, that's really terrifying. That's probably the main reason that they don't know they don't get anywhere is they're stuck. terrified of that. Right.

Unknown Speaker  13:31  

So how long did you have your landscape business? Then?

Unknown Speaker  13:35  

landscape construction for 10 years? Wow, that's a

Unknown Speaker  13:38  

long time working. 10. And when you're when you're thinking you're gonna be a, sir. Yeah, this is not the thrill when you were a pastor for a long while, right? This is not the thrill. But I'm spending most of my day in mud. Yeah. And you're just going like, I come home. I am the dead dog tired. And I've worked really hard. There was something very sad About that, but there was also something that I could have been stuck being just ground down

Unknown Speaker  14:06  

as you kind of journey through this, you know, not forgetting the amount of time that has gone by 10 years is a long time. It It doesn't feel the older I get it doesn't feel like a long time.

Unknown Speaker  14:18  

Or I've more of those units to count. Exactly.

Unknown Speaker  14:21  

So at what point did what eventually become the shack show up on your radar?

Unknown Speaker  14:27  

Yeah, interesting. I'm still landscaping. Mm hmm. And I'm a little bit in despair because I am just going like I don't see the exit strategy from this. I'm not getting rich doing this. I live in an industry where the labor cost is being driven lower and lower and the profit margin is going lower and lower and just go like okay pick the wrong arena to try to compete in and I don't know how to scale up and be some big you know, mogul magnet of real estate years ago like okay, I don't know how to do that. And I don't have the passion for that. Right. I had started a podcast with a buddy. Before podcasts were anything. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  15:08  

you were a pioneer?

Unknown Speaker  15:10  

Yeah, we we didn't I didn't really know it. I was offered a radio gig. Was it called the podcast back then.

Unknown Speaker  15:15  

It was the guys have electricity or did was it just like it

Unknown Speaker  15:19  

took two candles? Wow. You know, like the smoke a couple of cans? Yeah. Yeah. Um, yeah, only two of us heard it. We have a pioneer. It was amazing. No, I had been invited to do a radio gig in LA. And I kind of went, Oh, that could be cool. But I didn't want to do just a single voice talking head thing. Yeah, I really wanted to have a conversation. And they didn't really want us to do it as a twofer. Yeah. And so I kind of went, well, I don't really want to do a one for you know, I just I don't it's like I I don't know that I find those very exhilarating, right. And that's what my buddy kind of got excited about the idea of let's do a podcast and so we're sitting down at his house. Just Just the tape recorder, having coffee. Mm hmm. And I forgot about the I forgot about the tape recorder and we just had a conversation. Yeah. So pretty quick, this little thing that we did started to blossom and it was listened over, you know, 135 nations, and no idea.

Unknown Speaker  16:17  

That's huge. How is it distributed back then?

Unknown Speaker  16:21  

It's just on website. I mean, you did have iTunes. Okay, that was there. So this wasn't that long ago. I mean, no,

Unknown Speaker  16:27  

but but relatively speaking,

Unknown Speaker  16:28  

they had a long library. I think the reason that actually got that listenership is there weren't very many religious podcasts talked about much of anything. Gotcha. And it wasn't just somebody recant sermon, right? We're actually doing something very different in a spiritual space. We're having a conversation that has questions, and we're not demanding. These are the only valid answers. Right exploring things. Plus, we were talking about what does it look like beyond the institution Huh, who knew that that'd be a great marketing aspect of a product. I did it. Right.

Unknown Speaker  17:05  

I was just because you because you didn't have sponsors of yours. You just were talking.

Unknown Speaker  17:10  

And we've done something really unique. We've never tried to sell something. And we've never asked for money on anything, right? It's just always been one of those Go figure. And so that was a wonderful creative outlet. And and the guy that I did it with, he had written a couple books. And he'd gotten disenchanted with the publishing industry. And he was now publishing his own books. And, and so we had talked about, gosh, let's write some books together. And so we were thinking about doing that. Mm hmm. And in the course of doing the podcast, all of a sudden, one day a manuscript showed up at his house, from someone that had been his driver while he was speaking up in the Pacific Northwest, and they just shared it with him because he was the only author that they knew right? And he just shared the kind of as a gift, but when I showed up that morning to tape, tape, a couple shows. He was at the kitchen table crying. And I'd never seen him cry. Wow. And so I'm going like, oh, is everything okay? Yeah, I'm actually I'm shifting into comfort mode. I'm friend like, what's what's wrong? Yeah. And nothing's wrong. He's that moved with something he had just read. And I Oh, do share. Yeah, I want I want that experience. I want to be moved Riley that and so he shared this little thing with me. And I was fascinated and it was the original manuscript of what became the shag Hmm. And it was written as if this was a real experience. So my first thought was to this dramas. Oh, I want to go fly up and meet this guy. Wow. And my buddy kind of went was fiction. I felt totally duped. I went, yeah. Oh, that's good. Yeah, yeah. I didn't feel like I wasn't mad. I wasn't. Oh, I did. I wasn't embarrassed. I just went, right? Really? Yeah. I'm kind of bummed. I wanted him to be read. Because I really wanted

Unknown Speaker  19:06  

to have a conversation with interesting. So you didn't know what you were reading Really? At the time? No,

Unknown Speaker  19:12  

it just, it was thought provoking. And it was written as if it was someone's actual encounter. Hmm. And the basic premise is this guy spends a weekend with God and you're like, well, I'm kind of this should have this really happened or not. Because if God's like in the woods someplace, I'm going camping. Right, you know?

Unknown Speaker  19:29  

Yeah. All right, fine. Which force is that?

Unknown Speaker  19:32  

Yeah. And, and so when we found out that this was just sort of the musings of somebody, you know, ideas, it was a lot of little mini sermon that's connected up together, but there was some fascinating questions that I just, I was like, I'm hooked.

Unknown Speaker  19:47  

This is interesting. Then you guys took that and started to collaborate response

Unknown Speaker  19:52  

was, okay, so this guy's not real. What's he planned to do with this? Because I instantly saw movie. That was my first response. I didn't go oh book. I just know like, no fascinating drama. Yeah, I'm hooked. This would make an amazing movie. What does this guy want to do with it? Nothing? Oh, then can we? Yeah, do something with it, right. And we kind of pitched the notion that, you know, we'd like to do something with this story. Mm hmm. And we'd like to turn it into a movie. And we've it's been sort of suggested to us, maybe we do a book First, get a little bit of an audience. And that would give us the basis to go someplace to say, could you give us more money? We'll make a movie, right? And so it's like, Okay, let's do that sounds like a plan. And so we had Syd fields, how to write a screenplay. Yeah. And we, in the course of that weekend, we mapped out what we thought the story out to be, because he had a bunch of like, sermon edits, and we kind of went as nice as all those thoughts are, this is what we're really kept. baited by, we'd love to tell a story about this. Why don't we map out what that would look like? And so we were discovering what did we think were the crisis? point one, what was crisis? Point two? That's like, we took SIDS formula. As someone who, here's how to write a screenplay. Yeah. And here's how we map this out. And we also did that we had sticky notes on a wall. Mm hmm. And we kind of, you know, it took the better part of the day to figure that thing out. And we kind of went,

Unknown Speaker  21:32  

Wow, I thought you're gonna say it took better part of a year or six months?

Unknown Speaker  21:37  

the better part of the day. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  21:40  

Because we were we were collapsing this thing in on the essence of what we thought was the real compelling thing was this whole, you know, tragedy that sets up this drama of an encounter with God, like how does God meet somebody in the midst of the room? nightmare, right? And what's he gonna do with that person? in a practical way? Yeah. Not in a legal way. Right. It's like, God's God's a real God who made real humans that really hurt, right? And if if he's gonna, like, spend a weekend with them, I'm not thinking he's so on. So up on his teachings, that he has this agenda of what he's going to do to this man. Right. I think we were all cynical enough. The one thing that really united us as three different guys is, we've each been sort of hit by the bus of life. Mm hmm. Then totally run over. Awful. And live to tell about it. Yeah. And what we learned is that God still existed, still loved us and medicine, the midst of that. And we were kind of freer today than we were before the bus hit, right. So we knew there was as unfun as it was. was

Unknown Speaker  23:00  

never fun to get hit by a bus folks.

Unknown Speaker  23:03  

We knew we knew there was something valuable if you if he kind of could could hang with the process, right?

Unknown Speaker  23:08  

And so how long of a process was this before you felt like okay, this is it, let's let's go get this thing published,

Unknown Speaker  23:15  

we went through four major rewrites over 16 months. And then we finally kind of went, you know, we could Tinker here too, when Jesus returns. This is good enough, right? Let's see, you know, Wayne, you know, the publishing industry, you know, people, why don't you send it out to some people. You know, Paul didn't know anyone. I didn't know anyone. And we really were relying on Wayne to go like, how do we do this? So at that point, I didn't even know what it was that we were going to do and what we had because, you know, Wayne was sort of acting like, you know, the agent for the book and sending it out. And while the three of us had written this together, the handshake deal was I really wanted to do the movie. Wayne was more interested in kind of like doing the movie with me. He wasn't feeling the need to be an author. Paul was going like, well, we'll let you have more say in the book. And we'll do the movie. That's kind of like our handshake deal. Right? So, but I didn't know what that looked like, and we didn't have a contract. And no one thought those things out, we just worked really well, because you're

Unknown Speaker  24:18  

just friends. You're in the trenches for all this time you collaborated on this story? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  24:24  

And but but nobody was nobody was clamoring for credit. There wasn't any money to split. Mm hmm. There wasn't any fame to be had. It was we all fell in love with the story. And we had kind of mingled our lives together through 16 months. And that was probably, I think, the high watermark of my creative experiences with people. And because we didn't know what we were doing, and we weren't, we didn't have this target that we're trying to hit. Right. We just had a glorious time doing what we were doing.

Unknown Speaker  24:57  

They're having fun.

Unknown Speaker  24:58  

Yeah, I just Like, you don't want this to end. So it's like what can we do with this? Wayne passionate around? He got one amazing response from a guy named Eugene Peterson and had a little bit of name recognizability or lots of fame. I mean, wrote the Message Bible. Yeah. Okay. He said this is better than pilgrims progress. And he put that into a into a quote that just talked about, it's like to instantly compare a story to a lifelong classic out there, right? And say that this is sort of like pilgrims progress for this generation. You sat there like, that was a monster, right endorsement from someone that kind of could say they know something about this realm of life. So that actually got a lot of attention that otherwise without which we would not have had, right and that was just a friend of Wayne's. Yeah. So you just gonna go figure right. Okay.

Unknown Speaker  25:58  

Wow, this is so how did you build on that? Then at what got us

Unknown Speaker  26:01  

into some doors. But here's the interesting thing, we went to 26 different publishers, and they all kind of liked it. They no one came back like, well, this is stupid, but they didn't know what to do with it. And I think this is one of the huge problems where you're sort of, if you're ever going to be a pioneer or a creative of something that's not been done before. You're going to go through an awful squeeze, because everybody that has to earn some money off of what's going on. That's just really risky. Yeah, I mean, the reason there's such a thing as you know, pitch meetings, and it's like, this is sort of this joint with that is because you're trying to give people handles of something that they can look at, and have some sense of its trajectory, its return of income, and you just go like, you know, without those little handles, they don't know what to do. So if you say well, no, there's nothing out there like this. Yeah, they're like kiss of death. Yeah, yeah. It's like, well, I'm sorry, we'll have to pass

Unknown Speaker  27:01  

marketing because of that. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  27:02  

we think it's really wonderful. But but we don't know what to do with it. And if they don't know what to do with it, they don't know how to gauge it as a return. And because people's paychecks and their careers are on the line, yeah, no one's there to lose money, and no one will stay there. Right? They consistently lose money. So it's like, No, no, we just do the things that are solid plus, oh, so this was written by three people. That's not gonna work. And, and oh, none of you are known or famous. Yeah, that's not gonna work. Right. And so you just end up going like three strikes we're out and, and because Wayne had had published a couple of books on his own. I sat there like, Well, why don't we just do that? Yeah. And he's gonna like, is a lot of work and I don't I have other things in my life. I want to do I don't know. I was happy to do this. But I don't really know. And I'm sitting there going like, I'm landscaping. I could shift gears. I could think of I this. This something needs to happen here. Yeah. I'm too in love with this to take anyone's rejection. The more rejections we got, the more excited I became because I sat there going, like, why don't we just do this? Right? You know, it's like, we gotta go. I guess we just got to the podcast audience. I don't know how large it is. It's not like we get metrics. It's like, we don't know what metrics are. Yeah, we just have an audience that they seem to love it. We didn't know that we've teased them for 16 months. So we decided to let's go ahead and print some on our own. So we found a printer. We decided to do a run a 10,000 because that had the like the meaningful price break, right? Yeah. Less than that. They cost a lot per book. Yeah, right at 10,000 is like well, not as expensive right? Let's do that. And so we decided to split the bill three ways. Wayne had some money. Paul Barr had someone give him some money. I had an interest free credit card.

Unknown Speaker  28:53  

And I had a motivation Yeah, of going.

Unknown Speaker  28:57  

I can have zero percent interest for 12 months. Can I for 12 months, roll the dice, roll the dice, hope we can come back with at least the money that I put up for it right? and looked at Kelly Kelly looks like okay, we'll do this. But was it scary? Oh, my lands. This is kind of like, what if you told me we were also starting a business? I probably would have freaked but I didn't really think of it that way. Right? Yes, we were right. But I didn't know how to start a business. I didn't really worry about that. Yeah, that's not what I was thinking. I was doing, like, we're just splitting the cost of a printing bill. Yeah. And we're gonna try to figure this out. Right.

Unknown Speaker  29:35  

So I know this thing really blew up. How many units Did you guys sell before you actually got to publisher

Unknown Speaker  29:40  

we had sold the first million units kind of on our own with the last 500,000 being a phone call. That's crazy. Okay. And, and then a big New York publisher Hachette sells the next 2 million pretty darn quick.

Unknown Speaker  29:57  

Okay, yeah.

Unknown Speaker  29:59  

So this thing is really snowballing and then they sell the next 3000. After that pretty darn quick

Unknown Speaker  30:06  

3003 to 3,000,003 million sales went down there.

Unknown Speaker  30:12  

So all of a sudden this thing really is snowballing. Someone actually sort of wrote about the Shaq as pre Shaq post Shaq in terms of the publishing world. They likened it to the Gutenberg press. Interesting for self publishing. Hmm. Because it was the first mega bestseller that made the number one new york times were on there for 152 weeks at number one. Okay, that's crazy. That is that is crazy and it has a little spike note next to it. Yeah, that that if you read in the note says the sales for the shack are so far outpacing number two, it's not even fair to have them on the same list. Okay, that was on there for over 100 weeks. Like are you just gonna like it was it was a monster. You know,

Unknown Speaker  30:57  

that's more than a year right? Yes, I do.

Unknown Speaker  31:01  

Last time I checked, so 2007 2008 you want to make a movie? Yes. At what point in time did you sit down and say, Okay, this is next I'm doing this.

Unknown Speaker  31:12  

About 2009 after we had done the deal, I had known some friends that we, you know, we're in the film industry. So we were thinking, you know, let's do this independent. Yeah. And so we had a bunch of people who were doing this, you know, from an independent standpoint, that's that 3 million. Okay. And then, you know, part of me was starting to realize, wait a minute, this thing is snowballing. And we probably need to consider doing this at a at a bigger level. And I'm talking to a producer, that is not part of the little group. But it's sort of like looking over my shoulder because it's a longtime friend is kind of like, you know, let me just look over your shoulder. These are shark infested waters, I'm going to look over you so you don't get eaten and I'm gonna like, Oh, that sounds really cool.

Unknown Speaker  32:02  

Yeah, right.

Unknown Speaker  32:03  

Didn't know that that person could also be a shark. Yeah, I

Unknown Speaker  32:06  

was gonna say that he had a big dorsal fin as well,

Unknown Speaker  32:09  

I didn't see when.

Unknown Speaker  32:11  

And I thought I think it was genuine. Yeah. And so you look at that. And so we have what I think is this little wrestling match of a bunch of people that are going, we want to hold on to this and keep it independent, because then we can control this more. Mm hmm. And I'm gonna like it but what's gonna serve? We've just made this jump to go to a new york publisher. And I remember feeling all I want to hold on to this. We can profit more if we hold on to this, but I don't know that we can service what really needs to happen. Mm hmm. And so I'm thinking this little let's hold on to it kind of mentality is acting a little more like Gollum, right, then then necessarily the wise how do we serve? The best outcome of the movie, right? Let's at least think way the reality is if we stay independent, what's that look like? If we go with the studio, what what does that look like? And I'm from my own standpoint thinking, I like the control of being independent. But I also have learned enough about the distribution challenges that there are things that we don't know that even remote answers, just as I didn't know how you get a book into Barnes and Noble, right. I don't know how you got a movie into a theater chain. Yeah, let's not pretend like I know all the moving parts,

Unknown Speaker  33:30  

right? And you just go like, just carry your film into a theater and tell him right.

Unknown Speaker  33:36  

You got one

Unknown Speaker  33:37  

at seven. I

Unknown Speaker  33:39  

thought this is really good movie. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  33:41  

yeah. And so you just go like, Okay, I'm over that thought that we can just solve all things being smart, you know, problem solvers. Yeah. And I think when all of a sudden you aren't coming at this from just a piece of passion, but now you have something that you can fight over. Yeah, the sad reality is successes, the harder test to pass. Failures easy. Everyone can do that. Success is got many fathers, everyone wants to pretend like That's mine. And failures and orphan. Nobody wants to own that. And yet I'm sitting there going like, Okay. Success is not bringing out the best in everybody. And pretty much we had a little, you know, gathering of golems Mm hmm. And that was I think the most painful thing to endure is to go like, Okay, wow, something awesome is impacting the earth. And it's the beauty of the little Cinderella story without an agenda. And now that it's a something, it's really hard to stay in that same space. And I really wish we could hit reset somehow. And I wish there wasn't a sense of what's in it for me because we never Ask that I honestly don't believe we have ever written the book if we had lawyered up and papered up and thought through all the contingencies of when it's a something, right? Because I just realized I've tried to go through that process with a handful of other people and it always kills the creativity. And you never have that perfect little something when you've already approached it from the you know, all the worst case scenario of writers that a lawyer does Alan going like I don't even know if I want to do this happy

Unknown Speaker  35:31  

buddy. Here's all the things that's going to go wrong. Yeah. And

Unknown Speaker  35:34  

there's wisdom in that there's not wisdom and not doing that right. But I just go like, the creative process and the lawyer process are two totally separate things that are not in harmony with each other the way they're practiced. You know, we did this really as ignorant Three Musketeers. You know, we split it three ways. I mean, we, we just we were totally naive, totally idealistic. totally stupid. In that way, and if it had, if it had remained just us three, I think we would have been fine. But the minute there were other interests that stepped on board to help manage success right. Now, they didn't do the work together. They didn't get the love together. They

Unknown Speaker  36:18  

didn't. They weren't in the trenches with you guys.

Unknown Speaker  36:21  

And so they don't care. Yeah, they want what they want out of it, and they're coming not as the creator of yours, but as those that are the profiteers. Mm hmm. And it went sideways. Mm hmm. And that was really, really painful because you want to just go like the, the beauty of this was the genuineness with which so much of the journey did happen. And the minute we kind of lost that you can see it, there's a dip in sales too.

Unknown Speaker  36:48  

Interesting. People get hung up a lot, you know, in all all industries, but especially this industry into what could it be right? Like what could this be and I'm going Take a land grab now believing it.

Unknown Speaker  37:03  

It's an amazing thing. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  37:04  

yeah. And if we can't get past this point, then the project like you said, it probably wouldn't have never done the book. No, you know. So it's interesting.

Unknown Speaker  37:14  

I look at that. And I just feel like, wow, I don't want to become the cynical lawyered up guy. I would still sooner approach this from a bit of a naive idealism that loves the what we're giving birth to. Mm hmm. And we'll pursue that as long as we can. I know, I'll get smushed, I'll know I'll get taken advantage of I know it won't be what I dream it could be. But it still feels cleaner, right and better pursuing it that way, and at least have a grid of wisdom of knowing the pitfalls of where it can go. I just don't, I don't enjoy the way business and loitering currently is being done because I just end up going right It's adversarial. And you put people that should be working together Mm hmm. at odds with each other. And the same guy isn't writing the contract that protects everybody, right? You have two vested interests that are protecting one side versus the other. And the lawyers are jazz that they win. As opposed to the we win. Right? I haven't met that lawyer yet.

Unknown Speaker  38:26  

So once you guys got past that, and things, sort of, at least, you know, the clouds parted a little bit and you sort of had you had the freedom to now let's plow forward and make this

Unknown Speaker  38:38  

movie. Oh, ultimately, we had to go through a PhD in the unfun lawyer land, but we finally got out of that mess. And somehow, miraculously, the rights ended up back in my hands for the movie, right? I gave up everything else that was of significant value, to get that But it was what I had really wanted in the first place. It's sort of like, yeah, you know, and so it's like, Okay, well, whatever, you know, you can get lost in that land and that becomes like as the millstone around your neck sinky to the bottom, or you can just like, Okay, next, right, let's get on, right, so we have the chance to make the movie. And I just kind of went, I don't want to do this independently, because there's too many pieces, I don't know. And you can make a great movie, you'll have more control. But there are so many of the pieces of the pie that you don't know how they work. And the gorillas have a particular dance that they do, that allows them to get the distribution they do, and that I've never seen an independent movie be able to get to that scope. And I feel like we really do have a story that deserves to be told ride release around on the global reach

Unknown Speaker  39:51  

at that time. I think there are now always nothing completely changed is this. This was the wreck really Sort of pre Netflix pre yes sort


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