A Radical Experiment in Documentary Direct Distribution

Today on Filmmaker Freedom, the first ever interview episode of this show. And it’s a damn good one.


It features Mike Hall and Chris Sakr of Shohawk Media. Over the last few years, these two created Generation Freedom, the premiere documentary about the online business movement.

Not only does the film feature loads of inspiring stories (including some from the biggest names in online business), but it has an educational component to it.

This led to a complete re-thinking of the business model for the film. It’s not on iTunes, Amazon, or screening theatrically, yet it’s been quite successful so far. After six months, the film has broken even, and Mike and Chris are just getting started with promoting it.

So if you’re curious how these two are shunning conventional wisdom and forging their own distribution model, here’s the episode with all the juicy details. Enjoy.


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What we covered in this interview

Like I mentioned before, Chris Sakr and Mike Hall are the founders of Shohawk (which I’d recommend heartily to people who like this site), and the creators of Generation Freedom.

Basically, it’s a documentary about online business that's being distributed using online business principles. Pretty meta, right?

But it's working. The film hasn’t been to any festivals, and it’s not on Amazon or iTunes, yet it’s already broken even. And these two are just getting started with the process of monetizing it.

In fact, we’re planning for a second part to this interview later this year, once they have the data from many of their ongoing experiments to sell this thing.

Anyhow, here's a quick sampling of the fun stuff we covered in this conversation.

  • What Chris and Mike learned from their fairly disastrous first attempt at making a feature film.

  • The story behind their new film Generation Freedom, and why it's often a good idea to follow your curiosity and make the films you would want to see yourself.

  • How the film breaks free from commodity pricing by providing significantly more value to its niche audience than other films.

  • The innovative tiered business model that's helping them earn more from every sale of the film than they would otherwise.

  • How they're using their many hours of raw material for the documentary to add additional value to their audience members.

  • Their approach to email marketing that's driving even more revenue.

  • How Mike and Chris reached some of the biggest names in online business to appear in their film and give it massive credibility within the niche.

  • A handful of tactics they're currently using to promote the film and build a business around it.

  • And plenty more.

If you’re curious, here’s the trailer for Generation Freedom. And here’s where you can buy the film if it piques your interest.

And last but not least, Chris and Mike put together a series of in-depth videos showing you the nuts and bolts of creating your own “micro business.”

You can access that free training here.

If you’re truly invested in putting these ideas to use, I’d recommend joining Freedom Fighters, my private community for entrepreneurial indie filmmakers.

It’s not another spammy facebook group or noisy forum. It’s an online oasis just for people like us. A place of sanity and respect, where we try our best to support one another in our respective journeys.

So if you’re interested in becoming a member, here’s where you can get the full scoop and apply (don’t worry, it’s totally free).

Hoping to see you inside.

-Rob Hardy

Lastly, if you enjoy thoughtful content like this, you'll love my Sunday newsletter, Filmmaker Freedom Weekly. 

Each week, I share my latest writing and podcasts, as well as a few hand-picked stories from around the web, a short film I love, and a healthy dose of filmmaking inspiration.

If you’re an ambitious indie filmmaker, it’s an email you’ll actually look forward to each week. Pinky promise :)