Filmmaker Goes From Zero To $100,000 Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) In 8 Months

Summary

Imagine having $230,000 in cash hit your business bank account in one month from two new 6 figure video projects.

Time to celebrate right?
NYC filmmaker Griff shared his growth strategy in this interview as always attempting to hit grand slams (baseball analogy)
In 2018, he was bidding for a $4,000,000 project.
But when he didn't land it...
He went into a 6 month dry spell with zero new cashflow coming into his video production company.
Thats when he decided to rethink how he scaled his video production company and found Next Level Creators.

  1. 🎥 We pivoted from projects to retainers.
  2. 📈 From $100k projects to $8k monthly recurring revenue for life.

$8000 MRR > $100,000 video project

In this interview we dive deep into:
  1. Why multiple 6 & 7 figure video production companies are pivoting to the Creators Operating System because its more predictable & profitable
  2. The importance of hitting singles, doubles and choosing your grand slams wisely when building a video agency
  3. How to build your video agency to a place where you are selecting your clients instead of them selecting you.
  4. The opinions of an extremely entrepreneurial + skilled video agency operator that now have clarity on where he is going and how he will get there.

Enjoy the interview!

Seize the day,
– Paul Xavier

Transcript / MP3

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Hey y'all. Griff Orme. Uh, I'm with a production company here in New York city called hi. Hello. Hi. Five. Um, before we got into next level creators, we were struggling going months, a month waiting for people to pick up the phone and call us. And since joining NLC, we've been able to go from not knowing what our videos were doing for our clients to being able to track results and working with the client we have on a content retainer too double their role as from our creative, um, telling some of the biggest ad agencies in the world that, um, you know, have having them tell us that, um, our creative is, is doubling the results and they're so impressed with how dynamic it is. And, um, past clients we've worked with are blown away at how we conduct business with them and it's helping us get more callbacks than ever.

And, and LC is definitely a change in the game for us. And with that, I'll hand it over to you, Paul. I like that intro. So I want to switch it out for everyone who's watching is use usual subscriber to let Griff take over today because his story's so cool. And um, Griff, tell me you joined next level creators back in February. Okay. 2019 so it's been about, yeah, roughly eight months here since you joined. Yeah. Tell me about before you joined, did you have any monthly recurring revenue in your video agency? How long you've been running it? Walk me through that history. Yeah. So before we, before we joined NLC, we, we're probably one of the most dramatic definitions of feast and famine cycle where we would have some months where we would be getting multiple six figure commercial shoots and we felt like we were rap stars or something like that with all the cash that was coming through the bank.

Um, all the way till what kind of did it for us and made us jump to NLC was we went through a six month drought and we're based in New York city. And when you have a production company based in New York city, you might think, Oh well why can't you just save up all this money and live within your means and all this, you know, YouTube financial advice and you quickly realize that your burn rate and running a business in New York city is if you don't have money coming in for six months, things get scary really quickly. So we ended up, we had no recurring revenue, we had massive shoots coming in whenever they called and yeah. Um, we made the jump to NLC cause we wanted to change that and get some recurring revenue and actually control what we could do with in our business.

Yeah. And so you know, you, you, you told me, you know, you had months where you do a quarter million dollars in cash, no close to it or hundreds of thousands coming through. And then that, that, those couple of months of nothing. Yeah. That was the real draw. When you encountered our messaging, where did you see us on Facebook or YouTube or one of those platforms? When you said this video agency model where you have monthly recurring revenue. Sounds good. And so you first got into the program, what were the big lessons, the big principles that you took away that made the difference for you in the past eight months? Yeah. Um, the big lesson, so, so what's really cool. Um, okay, this might be kind of a long answer, but I think there's a lot to it. Um, w so we kind of coming from the agency world, we were always trying to hit grand slams and I'm going to drop into baseball analogies.

I'm a big baseball fan. I got the Texas Rangers Jersey over my right shoulder on the wall. Um, but we in baseball speak, we were trying to hit grand slams all over the place. And during that six month drought, I remember it was like a year ago, uh, coming up on Thanksgiving, we were in a one month bidding war for a $4 million shoot. Massive, massive, massive shoe. And I guess we just kept thinking, dude, all we have to do is land this and we're good for the year and everything is going to be amazing. And then you can imagine how deflating it was when we didn't win it. Yeah. And then that's when my, we ended up just started, you know, digging like we're like sucks, this doesn't happen to us. And then I have to keep telling myself every day, I'm so grateful that didn't happen to us because we wouldn't have looked for something like NLC.

And since doing that, I think kind of more the ma, the, the macro, the two big macro takeaways that I have, um, learned since being an NLC are one singles and doubles win the ballgame. You know, getting these re getting recurring clients. If you can have five recurring clients that pay you between three and five K a month, that is a lot more effective than going after the six figure commercial shoots. Um, it's, it's more sustainable revenue. You can count on it. And the things that you can do, even though it's not such a massive number in the beginning, but the things you can do when you actually plan on Rome and new coming in every month are, are huge. You can actually start making six months, 12 months, 18 month plans for expansion. You can start looking at, you know, doing projections and bringing in team members that help you scale even faster and, and do your work even better.

Um, and what's cool about this whole, this whole thing with NLC, it's made perfect sense because before I got into production, I was in the digital marketing world. [inaudible] and so, you know, like so many people have said, like you've said in your videos [inaudible] you know, it's always, it was always me and my kind back in those days that were getting credit for all the video people for all the results you're getting. Yup. You know, you're the one that gets to it to hand in the spreadsheet at the end of every month that shows all of your KPIs, uh, to the client. And they're the ones that are either stoked with you or pissed with you, but with video it's always been like, well, clients are like, I put it on my website. Where's, where's my new customers? What next? Yeah, yeah, I put it on YouTube. Why don't I have the phone ringing?

Um, and in talking with so many people that are even more experienced with us that have been in the media industry for sure, you know, 30 plus years at [inaudible], some of the biggest ad agencies when we check in with those contacts and we tell them what we're up to now with NLC, they're like, that's so brilliant. That literally is the next move within the world that you have to be doing that as a video production company. And if you're not doing that in five years from now, yeah. You're done in the commercial film space, correct? Yes. I I 100% agree with you. I think there will always be a place four, the commercial filmmakers who are also [inaudible] solely doing really good writing as well because they'll be outsourced for the writing, directing, producing. But if all you're doing is pressing record on a camera, those prices have been monopoly.

I mean commoditized at this point. Agreed. Agreed. But the aspect of running distribution or running retainer content based off of a storyline that is created overarching campaign, really good writing and directing, those people will longterm succeed. And that's, yeah, that's what you've gotten yourself into. So you're, you're talking with the big dogs. I mean, if anyone knows advertising New York city is the big dog of advertising where the best ad agencies are. Yup. The most talented creatives and advertisers are right there in that hut. And they're looking at what you're doing from learning next level creators content and saying this is the future. Yeah, that's a good sign. People, I would say that's a good sign right there. That, and this is the thing I was talking about a decade ahead, 2020 through 2030. What does the future of video production things aren't going to be shrinking.

They're going to be expanding for video creators and filmmakers. We have to know where they're expanding and where to leverage. So that's awesome. Um, and so again, looking back at your story, the big lesson you said, it was basically that creating the recurring revenue singles, doubles are going to be what wins the game for you. Is there anything else that you learned that was really profound for you that made a big difference so far this year? Yeah, so the thing, one of them, what's become one of my favorite things with the entire NLC program [inaudible] if you're a younger, less experienced creative, um, meaning from the business side, not necessarily the, the, you know, how to edit, how to operate cameras, how to do coloring and sound and all that. If you are kind of more stuck on the business side like where I was three or four years ago, this program is incredible because it gives you just a drop in system that helps you go from overnight too.

You know, doing $500 Craigslist videos with a DSLR to like actually having a legit, you know, very professional level of operation. Um, for us, we've been in business doing big deals, so it was helpful to have kind of someone else's perspective and how to do, how to manage your business and do kind of the behind the scenes operations too of it. But the, I think by far the thing that is worth the price of admission a hundred times over in its weight in gold is, uh, all of the, the selling modules. Um, I've done a lot of sales training, I've done a lot of, you know, studying with guys like Jordan Belfort and um, and learning all those sales systems and to have yours and how it applies into production [inaudible] is just incredible. I mean, the way that you can close deals with that is there's nothing else like it.

Okay. Um, okay. Yeah. And that alone has been the most fun to go through and get on the phone with people and you don't feel like a scammy sales person anymore. You feel like I'm here to fix your problem. I have the ability to do that. Let's talk about how we can make [inaudible] both of our lives better. Mm. I appreciate it. That's why we call it earn the deal. Yeah. [inaudible] called that for a specific reason is when I develop that training. You know I've trained with everyone in sales period. Yeah. If there's a guy out there who sold, you know, 10 million, $20 million worth of anything and they've got a sales training or a book, I've read it, been through it, studied it to the nines and done it again like three times over and when I created during the deal, the major thing I wanted to get away from, which was all of those sales trainings is the sleazy aspect of it or the manipulative aspect of it. [inaudible]

purposefully don't use the kinds of words that a lot of people use, like closing for that reason. I don't like the idea of closing someone. I like the idea of earning a deal that is a win-win opportunity for both us to grow in a collaborative way. That's what service businesses should be in a product business. It's earning the deal from the perspective of helping. Right. This product. Absolutely you and so I'm glad you, I'm glad you see things that way as well. And I know you mentioned when you were going through earn the deal, one of the light bulbs that kind of clicked off in your head is you, you know, you have a partner who's been in the industry for a really long time or how long is, has he been in this game like 15 years now? Yeah. And in the commercial space, that's a very long time.

He had a lot large client roster. Yeah, no, you leverage what you learn and earn the deal to go back to those clients. Tell me about that process and, and what that's been like for you. Yeah. So, so just in the, in the kind of nuances that you learn in the, the earn the deal module, it helps you to kind of carry yourself in a way that when you do it enough times and you do, you know, you do it every week and you start to really ingrain it in your head. Um, I have mine set up, so I get pinged every Monday morning at 8:00 AM and I sit down with a cup of coffee after I gotten up and worked out and done meditation, I sit down in, the first thing I do to kick off my week is earn the deal. And what that does, starting your week with that and doing it every single week for a year, it literally starts to program program your brain okay to be even more of a problem solver than you already are.

And when you kind of learn the nuances in it, you'll get into a conversation like on set with another executive producer from an agency and you just kinda start going like, how can I make y'all, is lives easier? Like how can we work together to kind of do this? And through doing that, it's literally just got us. So where, or the guys for this one agency and we get called back all the time to do all of their stuff, to the point that we don't, they used to make us triple blind bid every job that came through, but now they don't even bid us anymore. They just call us and book. Yeah. Yeah. And that, that's another aspect of the agency world. I think he's really, um, powerful. Right. Just because you have, and, um, you know, before you joined you had zero monthly recurring revenue coming in.

Now you do have, how much right monthly recurring revenue do you have now? So we're doing about eight K right now. A month recurring. I'm between two clients. So in, in, yeah. In, in, uh, in our first year to basically go from this huge six month drought. Really get started on this in basically quarter two of this year. Okay. Um, and then roll into, you know, six months later we've got eight K recurring coming in. Um, we have a sales guy coming in as our sales manager, uh, towards the end of this year. And our goal has been because of the way, like I was saying, that we could apply, earn the deal to our old clients. Yeah. We kind of went for the low hanging fruit, if you will. Yeah. Um, just cause it was easy. We knew it worked, but it's like how can we make this even better using the system we already have after we did that, our plan now is like, okay, we're going to blow the doors off this thing in 2020.

And so to start at eight K a month in your one with not really attacking it has been incredible. Yeah. That's a really profound shifts. So the, the, the dynamic I wanted to get here for everyone who's listening is that he went from zero to $8,000 a month recurring. That's our minimum that we typically look for when trying to find a client who is, will be a good fit is I want to add a minimum of $100,000 this year to your business. I want to do it very quickly. We accomplish that with you. But that's just the recurring side. The other side, the one off project side, the grand slams, the doubles, the, the singles, those are still there. You're still taking them on because the monthly recurring doesn't take up all of your time. Not at all. It's a little bit of your time, but it's that consistency and it actually gives you the freedom.

Just say no to the bad one off the bad singles and start taking devils, start taking grand slam swings with confidence cause you know that you have that back in there, right? Yeah, exactly. I mean, I mean, and it's, it's not only that from the positive end of the spectrum of let's swing for the fence on this and try to, I try to take on these huge jobs, but it's also helping us on the bottom line to say no to stuff that's just way too low and that it's just like, that's not even worth our time to go after that. Know we have [inaudible] amount that's coming in that's covering us so we don't have to take garbage stuff that we don't want to do. Yeah. And that alone I think is, I almost look at that as more powerful than being able to swing for the fence.

Cause we've always tried to go out and swing for the fence. But to be able to not have to scraped down low for that stuff has been my favorite thing alone. Period. Yeah. It's that freedom and that's what I talked about. Yeah. It's freedom. Yeah, exactly. If you want financial creative time freedom, you need a system from a financial perspective, that means recurring revenue annually. Exactly. New monthly recurring revenue. We need that. And so, um, this, one of the things that I think is really powerful here is you have found a relationship that I try to drill into every next level creators mind that is extremely valuable, which you don't need to run a commercial campaign. Do you get your clients results? You can partner yep. With the right distribution company and be the content engine and the results of distribution company you'll get will be exponential what it would be without you.

And so you said earlier that you're getting your client a nice row as by partnering with their agency. Talk me, talk to me a little bit about that relationship, um, how it came about, what the results have been and what kind of numbers they're doing. [inaudible] sure. So, um, this relationship with the agency is still very new because our clients, and we've been with them for two months, maybe three months. Okay. Um, so it's still a very much kind of developmental, ongoing relationship. But what's been cool is they've kind of agreed to, um, help give us insights on what contents working so that we can kind of know how to tweak our creative in the next batch and for, so the client we have, they're uh, they're a fashion like leather goods company and the amount of content you need to be online if you're trying to be a fashion brand is astounding.

Yeah. It's uh, I mean it's, it's re I think we have from the last 60 days we have like a 10 terabyte hard drive that's full of their stuff. Sure. Um, so it makes so much sense to put someone like that under a content retainer. Yeah. And then to work with, they have a whole team of like 60 people that's managing their ad accounts. So why wouldn't it make sense to interface two together and have just a constant stream of content coming through. And then, you know, one of the best digital ad agencies in the world that's taking that content, running it and assist this whole team thing that's resulting in them getting probably double their ROAS from what they were like a year ago. Yeah. And it's like the projections are just going up and up and up and they're benchmarks to get up to like [inaudible] 2.5 row ads in the next six months or something like that.

But that's, I mean, that's the power in this stuff is partnering with people who do it better than you and, and getting the best result for that client in the end. Yeah. And so I love that case study right there for anyone who's listening and wondering, you know, does video actually work? Does it increase the, the campaign? Here's the answer. No, he, all he did was take an existing, really good advertising agencies content, took it to the next level with his videos in their role as practically doubled. And this is on a significant amount of ad spend because they are one of the biggest agencies with a huge fashion company. So, I mean, you're talking tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, most likely, of course. Uh, so that when you see those types of numbers coming through, it can give you that certainty that if it's working there, it should be able to work on an even bigger level or an even smaller level depending on what kind of clients you are working with.

Yeah. Okay. So that, that leads me into our other retainer, which is such a funny comparison because the other one we're running a commercial campaigns for and it's a tiny dance studio here downtown New York. Yeah. Um, and they do, so it's, it's dance lessons for kids like from three to 12 or something like that. And ours are like, our spend for them for marketing is, I think we're allotted like five or 700 bucks a month or something like that. So, I mean, the, the difference is like 150 grand a month versus 500 bucks a month. But when we started implementing, um, the ideology of the commercial campaign with that company, Oh, with the dance studio, we ended up getting them about, they went from having like three kids in their program and their max capacity is like a hundred. Oh. And we took them from three kids and I think they're at about 50 this semester.

And that was from like, we had one month to fill it up as much as we could before the semester closed. Zelle. Yeah. And we're already, we're already moving for the next, the winter semester to [inaudible] get it booked out even more. But we were able to fill it up halfway on 500 bucks a month ad spend making really simple, really easy videos. I think we shot them in like we were on set for like an hour or two and spent maybe another hour in post and just [inaudible] we're like, this isn't even close to our best work, but the message works, the type of content that it needs to be works and you know, we can always reshoot it. Yeah. Um, which is they'll always reshoot it. But in our situation, because of our relationship with the dance studio where like it's not a big deal for us to do it.

Um, so just like I, I feel like in my case I'm the [inaudible] I'm a great example of how you can work with seven figure companies and you can work with a company that's literally one person running it and they have 500 bucks a month to spend on ad spend. Okay. Um, and anything within that spectrum in between and if anything, that's proof that the system works on all ends of the scale. Yeah. And I think I like one of the things that you mentioned there, I'm looking behind you right now. I see the baseball Jersey, I also see a red camera. Right? That's a mission. That is a monster of a camera. Yes. Yes. Typically everyone's got any filmmakers a picture of it by their bed when they're 16. Dreaming about having that camera. Yeah. Yeah. And you just said it doesn't matter so much about the quality, the content from the picture perspective cause you can reshoot that you wanted to validate that the messaging was was good.

Is that something that you learned in next level creators from a messaging standpoint with media? Yeah, a 1000%, yes. Because we come from, we've come from the high end commercial world where [inaudible] someone cuts you a check for 200 grand to carry out a shoe and you show up on set with a DSLR. You will never work again. Like they will make sure you will never work again if you're not showing up with the red camera, you're done. Yeah. Um, obviously these things like, you know, we're not here to talk cameras but this thing has its own workflow that makes life super easy in a lot of aspects. But honestly the camera that we shoot on the most is a, a black magic or some mini, which you can pick up for like three grand now or 3,500 bucks now or something like that. I mean, we shoot on DSLRs, we shot a lot of the ads for the dance studio on the iPhone with a little iPhone gimbal.

Yup. Um, [inaudible] [inaudible] doesn't matter as much for, for kind of doing NLC and it, you know, I think it does depend on who your client is, you know? Right. Like if you're going after a dance studio or a dental practice, you know, red cameras and all that, it's not gonna matter at all at all. Um, if you're working with the fashion brand, okay. Well, you know, then you have to play. And so like the aesthetic and all the art director stuff. But yeah, it's not, it's not about the camera is as awesome as they are. As much as I love all the cameras we have, we have, I'm sitting in my studio here and we have dozens of [inaudible] [inaudible] and Nemo lenses and lighting. But yeah, it's not about that. It's about what kind of message you create that works well enough to push the program through and get that client results.

Yeah. And that that 100% is the major, major distinction that we tried to make with the videos that sell training for next level creators is getting people away from that leaf. You need to produce high quality when really the quality starts with the message and the content then works its way backwards to audio and works its way backwards to image quality. I want to, I want to finish up this interview. I think I've, we've had a lot of fun chatting here today. I'm definitely, as far as you know, looking back at it, you're someone who has an experience. You come from the [inaudible] big commercial film world, right? You're shooting hundred thousand, 200,000 hours of videos. You're getting grants, lands with ad agencies in New York. You guys have the camera gear, your skill that it, you liked what you did for other people in that scenario. Do you next level creators and why a 100% I mean, if you're serious about building your career, uh, in video, I think NLC is absolutely the place to be.

Ah, it's the future of where this industry is going. You know, especially if you're starting out, especially if you're smaller, if you're not a traditional, go to USC film school and work for a famous commercial director for 30 years until you're making them. This is the only way to go. This is kind of your only option. And I don't want that to sound like a bad thing because it's actually an amazing thing. Uh, I mean, once you implement these things, and I really build this up, [inaudible] build up a business that you get to have fun. You got all this freedom. I mean, for crafts, if you make videos for a living and put ads, like what, what better job is there than that? Uh, and yeah, you know, it just, it gives you so much freedom to, to be creative and to do the things you want to do.

Um, and then the, the other side of that coin is when you really get into it and you talk, you know, you get to become friends with, with these clients, that's the truth. You know, get results for, to hear how you can change their lives and impact other people with your work. That's when you really start to feel validated and good about what you do. And there's just not like, it's the best way to do it. I appreciate it, Griff. And um, for you moving forward, you've got a big year ahead of you. 2020 is going to be huge. We're already, you know, we're working together on sort of what that strategy is going to look like. And so, um, guys, we'll bring Griff back on here in about a year and we'll be talking about what the multiple seven figure level feels like that point. So I'm looking forward to it, but I appreciate you taking the time to share all your information, your experience so far.

And any last words that you have for other creators out there who might be looking for some inspiration or, okay. You know, I've been hitting her head against the wall for awhile, man. Where to begin with that. Um, [inaudible] honestly, personal projects. Um, I think if you're a creative that's trying to make it, um, you know, as your full time job, you have to remember why you get into it in the first place. And for me, I know that the [inaudible] only thing that keeps me sane with as crazy as life can get sometimes is um, I shoot street photography. Like I'll go out four or five days of the week with my camera and just go shoot street photography. And so like, I think you have to just keep in mind that yeah, personal projects are so important to you. Keeping your sanity and like keeping your creativity fresh and giving you something to do that still your industry.

It's still what you're doing for a living, but you don't have the pressure of like, Oh, if I don't do this, I'm not going to eat. And it just keeps you sane. Yeah. Do personal projects and getting next level creators. Man, I like that hook number two, right guys. Just do it. Just stop asking questions. Just do it. I remember I'll never forget the first movies I ever made on like the tiny cam quarter. It was on a, a holiday with my family. We were recording my aunt getting killed by a little doll clown. We like take the knife to the cloud. I was like stabbing my aunt and she was like, you gotta have personal projects. It's why we got into this in the first place. It's your passion behind all of it is to do something fun and yeah. I love that. It's a great tip. Yeah. Thank you, Griff. I appreciate you taking your time. Yeah. Blended there.

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