How a high school teacher reinvented mobile filmmaking (on Shopify)
First we'll hear Dave's journey from Hollywood Producer to High School teacher to international mobile filmmaking seller.
At the end of the episode, Dave gives us the crash course on how you can radically improve the quality of video you're producing with the iOS device you already have.
Stick around for the end to learn how to win giveaway our iOgrapher Multi Case for mobile phones and the iOgrapher Flexible tripod! x3!
Kurt Elster: Knowing photography, I think at this point if you are an entrepreneur, you almost assuredly have to understand photography as part of your social media strategy, as part of your email marketing, as part of your content creation. And I’ll tell you right now, our most successful clients with digital marketing, with like Facebook ads in particular, are always creating fresh content, and it’s so hard to do when you can’t just knock that stuff out in house.
Dave Basulto: Oh, absolutely, and it’s costly if you’ can’t, and also, you know, it’s just if you’re a one-man show, it’s extremely hard to get that stuff done. You gotta have a schedule, and I do a lot of batch stuff, where I’ll do five videos on a Saturday. Saturday is like my most productive day, so I’ll do like five video tutorials, or five product reviews or something, so I know I have stuff for the next few weeks. Otherwise, it’s like you get so far behind, but absolutely, you gotta learn how to do these things on your own.
Kurt Elster: All right, so that was this show’s, today’s cold open on The Unofficial Shopify Podcast, recorded from Ethercyle HQ, on the fifth floor of Westfield Old Orchard Mall in Skokie, Illinois. We are talking with Dave Basulto from iOgrapher, and Dave has quite the background. He had a phenomenal filmmaking podcast that was sponsored by Adobe, with 800 episodes, and now he is into mobile videography, photography, and has a Shopify store, selling really cool accessories to do really phenomenal filmmaking right from your iPhone. From the device you already have. The best camera is the one you have with you, and he is going to walk us through that journey, and some of his content creation guidelines.
You sir, you started as a high school media teacher?
Dave Basulto: Yeah. Well, even going back further, I was a film… I got discovered. Let me tell you a quick story.
Kurt Elster: Sure.
Dave Basulto: I graduated from college. I went to San Diego State. I played football there. Got my first job, was at Dean Witter Reynolds back in the day. It’s not even around anymore, but they were a big stock brokerage firm, and I got a job, and worked on the 63rd floor of the World Trade Towers in New York for two years.
And luckily, I got discovered, quote unquote, by a talent agent, and asked me if I wanted to be an extra in a movie called Rocky V, and I had no idea what she was talking about, but I was pretty fit at the time, and I thought, “Oh my God, maybe I’ll be a boxer or something.” But she had me be a newspaper reporter on some giant scene. I think you see me for all of like two or three seconds, but I was sitting there talking with Stallone. I fell in love with the process. About two weeks later I left my job, came back home to L.A., much to my parents’ heart attack, and started getting, becoming an extra in the movies. And that wasn’t bad enough, I was earning… I went from earning about 75, $80,000 a day back in 87, to about $40 a day, and everyone thought I was bonkers, and I probably was.
But I was having the time of my life. I was on all these big shows and stuff, and then eventually I got my SAG card, and got… by falling down the stairs of a movie called Out For Justice with Steven Segal, I got blasted, was a mafia guy, got shot, and the guy said, “Hey, you want to earn your SAG card?” Because I was basically an extra still. I said, “Absolutely, what do I have to do?” He goes, “Well, you gotta fall down these stairs after you get shot.” I go, “Done.” Done.
So, I got blasted a bunch of times, I fell down the stairs. I was all padded up. I did it about eight times. Every time they were giving me an adjustment of $800 for falling, a stunt adjustment, and I said, “This is the life for me.”
Kurt Elster: So, you fell into being a stuntman.
Dave Basulto: I fell into being a stuntman.
Kurt Elster: There you go.
Dave Basulto: Yeah, and then I realized that stuntman meant other things than just falling down the stairs, and I said, “I am not gonna… I didn’t kill myself in college football, I’m sure not gonna start now.” So, I kind of got into acting, and with my SAG card, I started getting a lot of roles on TV shows. Cheers, Mad About You, all these different things, and it all culminated with a big, a nice role I had in American History X. I don’t know if you know that movie.
Kurt Elster: I saw it. Yeah.
Dave Basulto: I’m in that movie. I play the jail guard screaming at Edward Norton, and so that was a lot of fun, and then one day I kept… So, like I would always see these guys sitting on the side, who were in these chairs, smoking their cigars, telling people what to do, and I’m like, “What do these guys do?” And they’re like, “Oh, those are the producers. I’m like, “That’s what I’m gonna do. I want to be that guy.” So, I ended up meeting Danny Aiello. I don’t know if you know him. He’s an old actor. He was in Moonstruck and stuff. He wanted to do this mafia movie, and I BS’d my way to telling him I was a producer and I could do it for him.
And so, I got an option with him. I went out and raised two and a half million dollars in 30 days, which was kind of a record for me in my life, and we did a movie with pretty much everyone that was gonna be in The Sopranos eventually. And so, we went and shot that movie in New York. All of a sudden, I became a producer, and I started producing feature films and television, working with Mel Gibson’s company, and Lifetime Television.
And then I got completely burned out, Kurt. I was like… It’s just brutal to be in that business. It’s a young man’s game. I was in my thirties now, and I said, “I’m going to retire from all this,” and I did. My wife was a big production designer, did Dexter, and Weeds.
Kurt Elster: Cool.
Dave Basulto: And won awards for that. And she was burned out. We wanted to have kids, and so I was retired. I had some money in the bank, and I was playing video games and having a great time, and she said, “You gotta get off the couch and go out there and find a job.” And luckily, I got-
Kurt Elster: Well, hold on. At this point, what year would it be at this point?
Dave Basulto: 2008, because my son was just born. 2008.
Kurt Elster: Ooh. Ooh, right in the recession.
Dave Basulto: Yes. It was lovely.
Kurt Elster: Yeah.
Dave Basulto: But luckily, I did have a few dollars in the bank, so it didn’t really kill us, and our house was affordable, so we were happy out here. You know, luckily I had a friend who I grew up with who was hiring for a high school, actually my rival high school when I was growing up, and she said, “Hey, you’re not doing anything. You want to come and teach?” She said, “Do you want to come and be a media teacher, and teach media and animation?” And by that time, I had already… I had made a movie on my own. I directed my first film using a Panasonic DVX100 camera.
Anyhow, so I went and became, got my teaching credentials, and fell in love with being a teacher, which I thought, and I still think is the greatest job I ever had in my life, reaching these kids and doing all this fun stuff. I was in the classroom one day, and I realized I had 130 students all day. We were not getting enough work done, because we only had about five cameras, and if it was football season, forget it. The football team was using them to film their games and whatnot. So, I would literally give the kids, you know, “Here’s an assignment. We’re gonna shoot a short film. And you know, so there’d be 10 people to each group, or 20 people to a group, and nothing was getting done.
So, I said, “You know, let’s starting using your iPhones,” and then at that time the iPad Mini had just come out, and I bought one and let them use it in the classroom, and I was like, “These devices are amazing.” I mean, we can… Coming from the old, big camera world, and now I could shoot HD video, and I could do animations on it. I saw all these really potential great things.
So, I was getting a lot of stuff done. It was awesome. But I was getting back blurry, or not blurry, but bad sounding videos, but needed better lighting, and they were always shaky, and it was driving me nuts. So, I like to tinker, as we talked before the show, and I know 3D software, so I modeled a device that I thought would be cool, because I looked out there and everyone who was making cases for any kind of mobile device always had the case that would fit the device, and that was it. They wanted to make it as compact or as rugged as possible for that device, and that was it. But what I wanted was something that had handles on both sides, because I felt you really needed to have handles to keep things steady, and I thought you needed to have a place to put a tripod, so you could screw it onto the device, and that I wanted shoes on top to add lights and microphones, and then I wanted a place to place big lenses on that.
So, I tinkered, I made this thing, I sent it out to New York, to Shapeways, shapeways.com. They are a 3D-printing company at the time. Now they’re much… I mean, they’re huge now, but they had just gotten started. I sent them the file. They sent me back in a week this 3D-printed part, and you know what? Everything fit. Everything worked. It was amazing. I started to use this thing, and the kids loved it, because they found… You know, these are devices that they have in their pocket, and they found them really intuitive, so they started to make a lot more stuff. We were getting… We got a grant for some more iPads, so I started to have all these great iPads. I kept printing these things.
Kurt Elster: Let’s recap. You were discovered, fell into acting, developed a Hollywood career, and it sounds like your wife did, too. You both burned out of it, stopped doing it, didn’t really have a plan, and then through your network, through happenstance, got the opportunity to be a teacher, a film teacher at a high school. From there, found and saw your immediate pain was, “Hey, we don’t have access to devices. We don’t have access to cameras. But all these kids have a phone in their pocket. How do we make that a real tool? How do we make that a better experience?”
And there’s, like the saying the photographers know is, “The best camera is the one you have.” And so, you knew how to do 3D modeling? Was this in like SolidWorks?
Dave Basulto: This was in a thing called Cinema 4D.
Kurt Elster: Okay. Oh!
Dave Basulto: Which spits out… So, I was doing, because I was teaching filmmaking in school, but I also taught animation, and when I got to this high school, they were doing flip-book animation, the old teacher. I’m like, “Are you kidding me? We need to use Adobe After Effects. We need to use Cinema 4D.” And luckily, I knew these guys that ran these companies, and I knew Adobe, and so I got them to give us the software at the school, saving tons of money. And I was teaching these kids how to do 3D animations and stuff, so yeah, I had known the software. It’s funny, because everything just kind of tripped its way into this world that I’m in today.
So then, so I had this thing, I got these things made, and I said, “I’m gonna call these the iOgrapher.” It’s just a fun thing I said, because we’re videographers, and it’s an I device, and that was how genius I was to come up with that name, which is really lame. So anyway, the iOgrapher was born.
Kurt Elster: It’s a unique name. It’s a made-up name, which is nice when you’re registering domain names, and usernames, and handles on social media networks. Like our agency name, Ethercycle, I don’t love it, but it’s a portmanteau of ethernet and bicycle, from when we were-
Dave Basulto: Oh, okay. I did not-
Kurt Elster: Yeah. We were in-
Dave Basulto: … know that. That’s cool.
Kurt Elster: 10 years ago I tried to build an ecommerce platform for bike shops. Didn’t work out, so here I am. See, not every business idea works. But the advantage to having one of those made-up names is you could just register it everywhere. Now, the thing I don’t like about my name is it doesn’t apply to anything I do now. iOgrapher is brilliant, because there is that implication, and it also sounds interesting. It’s like if I said, “I’m a dog lawyer,” you’d go, “I gotta know more about that.” So, there’s a bit of curiosity there.
So, I will argue against you. I still say iOgrapher is not a lame name. It’s a very good name, and practical, and useful.
Dave Basulto: Well, I appreciate that. So anyway, so we have our thing, our device. We’re using it. And then one of the kids asks me, “Hey, Mr. B,” they call me Mr. B, because they can’t pronounce my last name for the life of them. They said, “Why don’t you try and put this on,” what is it? Crowdfunding.
Kurt Elster: Kickstarter.
Dave Basulto: Kickstarter.
Kurt Elster: I think one thing we have to do here is describe this product. It might be hard for people to picture. So, I’ll link to this site in the show notes. The episode art includes a photo of Dave with his product, but the common entrepreneurial story is I have a pain or problem in my life, and no one is solving this, and can I solve it? And so, his pain or problem was, “All right, we need access to cameras, we need accessible cameras, because this is for students.” So, the answer is smartphones, or iPads, tablets. But when you’re shooting video, you need to be able to keep the thing steady, so you need to be able to mount it to a tripod. All right, tripod mounts exist for phones. Or you need to be able to handhold the thing steady.
Well, a gimbal stabilizer is not realistic. You’d spend as much on that as on the smartphone. And so, the answer is we’ll just put it in a… not a slim, svelte, sexy case, like most iPhone cases try to be. In a really beefy case, like triple the size of the phone, and put handles on it, so that you can hold it, and manipulate it, and keep it stable, and essentially turn your arms into your jib, or boom, or whatever, to get those nice shots, and then also have accessory mounts on there, so you could put a light on there, and you can put-
Dave Basulto: Your microphone.
Kurt Elster: And I don’t know if it started with this, your microphone on there, because onboard audio quality is very important here, and now even lens adapters, as well, which is really cool. You launched this in May of 2013, so a little bit ago. You got 165 backers to raise $16,000.
Dave Basulto: That’s right.
Kurt Elster: And what’s interesting, the fundamental idea, the functionality of it is unchanged. It’s still the same thing, just the look, the industrial design has improved over time, but the core product is still very much the same thing.
Dave Basulto: Yeah. No, it’s the whole thing, the thing behind it was two handles, tripod mount, cold shoes, everything. That was what we had to do, so all of a sudden this thing’s going on Kickstarter. I’m getting phone calls from New York Times, from Forbes.
Kurt Elster: Wow!
Dave Basulto: Hey, you’re the teacher that wants to revolutionize video. And I was like, “Sure, if you say so. I’m just really trying to make some money, but anyway.” But literally, it was like overnight, things were happening. And then out of the blue, one of the parents that I was… I had taught his son for three years, and we’d become very close, he’s a senior attorney at Disney. He handles… He’s like second in command of all the real estate for Disney.
Kurt Elster: Which is no small matter.
Dave Basulto: No small matter. Yeah. Very affluent high school I taught at. And so, he saw this, made me… took me for a long walk. We used to walk and talk about stuff. We were both winos. We loved fine wine. And so, he says, “Listen, I love what you’re doing with this thing. Here’s a check for $500,000. Let’s go do this for real.”
Kurt Elster: Whoa!
Dave Basulto: I was like, “Okay. Okay.” He goes, “But the big thing here is you’re gonna have to probably quit your job.” And I was like… So, I literally went another six months, and we started to put this whole thing together. I had to learn about injection molding. I had to learn about packaging. I mean, all these things that I had no idea about. Luckily, some of the students in my classroom’s parents, one of them owned an injection molding company, where we make everything today in Southern California. One of them owned a big packaging company that does like Lancome, and all these places. And so, these things just started to fall in my lap. It was very thankfully.
And so, we were able to get this whole manufacturing thing done, and things I didn’t know when I was doing the Kickstarter, I mean, the mold for the original iOgrapher was like $50,000.
Kurt Elster: Yeah.
Dave Basulto: You know, I had no idea about this, and we ended up making that mold in China, because it would have cost almost double here, and how dumb I am, I thought because they started to send us, “Okay, well the mold’s done, everything’s ready to go, we’re gonna have to send it over by boat.” I’m like, “What are you talking about, because I have this little device.” Right? So, I thought it was a little mold. I said, “Can I just fly over?” I think the by boat was gonna be like $8,000 to ship it. I’m like, “You know what? I can… for a couple grand, I’ll fly to China, pick the damn thing up, and bring it home.”
Well, I didn’t know the thing weighed like 800 pounds. It was solid block of steel. So, that was not gonna work. So anyway, we got it shipped over here, and we started production, and many mistakes started at that time. We were doing them in different colors. I should have listened to Ford about, you know, you can have the-
Kurt Elster: Yeah. Classic Henry Ford line. You can have… The Model-T comes in any color, so long as it’s black. Because he didn’t want to overcomplicate things.
Dave Basulto: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. Keep it simple. Especially starting out.
Dave Basulto: Keep it simple. Yeah, so that was a huge mistake that we did. And then out of the gate… Well, so anyway, so that’s things started happening, and we were getting a lot of… We were starting to sell them out of our garage, and you know, we had heard about this thing called Shopify, and we started to get on there, and so we had like one or two products. And then the BBC came in and said, “Hey, we love this, and we love how every time we see a photo of you, you’ve got all these great accessories, so we would like to purchase bundles from you with all of these accessories.”
And I’m like, “Oh my God.” So, I had to contact all the people like Rode, and Sennheiser, and Manfrotto for tripods, and make deals with them, and become a reseller for all of them. So, I learned like trial by fire on how to get all of this stuff set up, and it’s just kind of crazy where life takes you.
Kurt Elster: You kept ending up in situations where one door would close, and another would open.
Dave Basulto: Yep.
Kurt Elster: And I don’t know what it is about life that makes this happen, but I suspect that luck is a thing that we can set up for ourselves. We can create a luck sale, and I think you have the mindset, and personality, and charisma, and presence. Like you said, you’re a 6’3”, 280-pound guy, and you’re clearly… You’re very gregarious. That’s a hard person to ignore. Like clearly, you walk into a room, you probably take up the room.
And so, someone like that people notice, and it creates what I’ve heard called in a TED Talk, a luck sale, where opportunities present themselves to you, and you’ve been able to take advantage of them.
Dave Basulto: I think going back to the early days of, you know, I got into… I was doing sales at Dean Witter, so I would talk to people all the time. I had no fear of that, and that translated into when I became an actor, where I had to be in front of the camera, and do lines, and work with these actors, and no training whatsoever. I’d just… My personality. But I have a great time talking in front of people, especially when you’re passionate about something that you believe in, things just… It just all kind of flows.
And so, I was of course, as I think you can tell now, I was super passionate about this whole company I have, mobile video in general. I just love the fact that our biggest customer are schools around the country, and you know, there’s kids out there, they might be the next Steven Spielberg. Who knows? You know, or the next newscaster. I can’t think of any. Walter Cronkite, or you know, somebody like that. And because now they have these products that they can practice on at an early age, and create great content, and you know, and who’s to tell that they’re not gonna be the next great YouTuber, making millions of dollars in a few years, you know?
Kurt Elster: Right. This is not an unheard-of thing, to create legitimate award-winning content. Soderbergh did High Flying Bird famously entirely on an iPhone 8 with a lens adapter mounted to it, like similar to what you described.
Dave Basulto: He did Unsane, as well. He did that one. And he’s noted as saying he doesn’t want to make any more movies other than on the iPhone, which is amazing.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. I just Googled it. He’d shot a film in secret in 2017, shot it in 4K on an iPhone 7 Plus. That’s crazy.
Dave Basulto: Yeah. Right? I mean, here’s a guy that’s got millions of dollars thrown at him to make Ocean’s 11 10. You know? He’s like, “No, I’m gonna go make these movies now. I love this. This is a great personal form factor that we can do.” So yeah, and it’s just getting better and better all the time, with the new iPhone 11 Pro. It’s just ridiculous, and if you throw in there an app like Filmic Pro, where you could shoot multiple angles at one time, it’s just crazy. So, you know, lots of advancement.
I think eventually, and I’ve been talking with Apple, that they’re gonna… You’re not gonna need lenses anymore, external lenses, because it’s gonna be all software driven. You know? The stuff that’s on board, you’re gonna say, “Okay, I want to switch from this lens to an anamorphic lens,” and it’s just gonna look perfect, it’s gonna be amazing, and you know, so it’s just really crazy how we’re going and pushing the buttons every year.
Kurt Elster: One of your wonderful unfair advantages here is that you absolutely understand the importance of storytelling, and you could see that in the Kickstarter description. You could see that in your absolutely fantastic about page. If you want an exercise in phenomenal copywriting for an about page, check out the iOgrapher about page. I’ll link to that in the show notes. And so, I think that certainly helped your success along the way. You had the Kickstarter was successfully backed, so you did take… You took funding from this gentleman who was at Disney.
Dave Basulto: Yeah, I mean-
Kurt Elster: Okay.
Dave Basulto: He had been… It seemed like he was the yang to my yin, because I’m just a high flying, la la la kind of guy, that loves life, and wants to make great things, and he’s like, “I’m a lawyer. We’re gonna do this the right way. We’re gonna get things patented. Blah, blah, blah. And trademarked.” And so, we had… We own about seven patents now. Working on an eighth one, on a new product we have coming out soon. And you know, that I attribute all to him, because I’m more of like, “Let’s just go out and do this.” You know? No, no, no. We can’t show this until we get it patented. So, he’s been amazing.
And also, he kind of lets me just do my own thing, and run the company, and I have one of my former students is, who graduated from college years ago, and now she’s… She runs all of our sales, worldwide, and then my wife’s in charge of all the money, as they are. And that’s it. It’s just the four of us. And it’s just been amazing. Everything else, we have a distribution center here in Los Angeles. They do stuff with… It’s called DCL. They do stuff with Mattel, with Lancome. Not Lancome. Mattel, GoPro, bunch of other people, but that’s another funny story that we can talk about later, about the first distribution center I had, and how they sent… I got a phone call one day during the holidays from a Catholic school in the East Coast, saying, “Hi, is this David?” Yeah. “Do you have two companies, sir?” I’m like, “No, why?” He goes, “Well, I just got a package from iOgrapher with a bunch of adult toys.”
Kurt Elster: Oh, geez.
Dave Basulto: So, that was lovely. This was some more trial by fire that you learn as you become an entrepreneur later in life, and don’t know a hell of a lot about this whole world, so that was a lot of fun.
Kurt Elster: Man. That’s like everybody’s worst nightmare. After the Kickstarter, and then you get this investor, and you’re able to manufacture the product, get it to market, and you learned along the way. You revised it, improved, and realized, “Hey, it doesn’t have to come in a bunch of colors.” And at what point did you get the Shopify store going, to continue the success?
Dave Basulto: I would say, so once we had the Mini going, and people were really into it, we decided to make one for the bigger, the old, original iPad, because it was… They were on their fourth generation, and a lot of people were asking us, “Hey, can you make one for this?” And so, we decided to make one for the bigger iPad, and then, so we said, “Okay, we got a couple products now, we’ve got a lot of audios, and tripods, and things like lighting, so let’s make a little store.” And so, I searched around, and Shopify really stuck out to me as the best platform at the time. It seemed very simple. I wanted something really simple, that I could just go in there and manipulate, and set up, and I’d looked at WooCommerce and all kinds of things.
I was like, “This is… I don’t know all this coding stuff. I don’t want to know all this coding stuff. I just want to drag and drop, and plug information in, and it just works.” And so, Shopify was our first place to go to, to really do the store. It was a very, very plain store with an ugly logo, but you know, people were finding us. I knew nothing about SEO. Just people were finding us by word of mouth. Around the same time, we put it up on Amazon, as well, and I once again knew nothing about making your titles right, or having the right bullet points, or any of that. I just, “This is what it is,” and I tell you, we’ve just stumbled our way to be successful all along the way. I thank God that we had a good product.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, certainly that’s at the heart of it, but it’s not just enough to have a great product, right? It’s so hard to build an audience, and get that marketing, and the Kickstarter did well, but it was not a runaway success. What were the next steps? What did you do that you were able to steadily develop the audience, and continue the sales, and really scale this thing where you’ve got a ton of products, and it’s sold worldwide now?
Dave Basulto: Yes. I was very lucky to be still connected to all my students and whatnot, and even during time as a teacher, I really attribute them to getting me involved in social media. Sure I had Facebook, just to connect with my old friends, but literally they showed me Snapchat, and Instagram, and all… and things that I thought were just so stupid, like why would you want to look at photos all day on this thing called Instagram? And who cares about Snapchat? I mean, what, the message goes away in two seconds? Big deal. I’m gonna go out and start creating some fun videos, so you know, I taught them how to do all these things, and it just started to really… People were like, “Hey! Well, how do you do this?” And I started getting all these questions. “How do you do this, and this, and this?”
And so, that led me to more and more content, and actually led me to writing a book that I have, called Life. Camera. Action., that’s on Amazon, and you know, that… It’s just the word of mouth kept going. It’s been insane.
Kurt Elster: I’m looking at your YouTube. You’ve got 13,000 subscribers, and it’s all… It’s this nice, polished content, but it’s very tutorial-based. It’s very educational. And it seems to be a lot around helping these various audience demographics, like your recent uploads. Get More Viewers on Amazon Live Using Restream. Secret Tips. So, you’ve got that entrepreneurial audience in there, but then The Coach’s Kit for iPhone. Film Sports With Your iPhone. The Coach’s… really walking through… Here’s one, Learn Premier Pro Step by Step. So, it’s a mix of some promotional, educational content for your own stuff, plus just educational content niched down to your audiences.
Dave Basulto: It’s all about giving value out there. That’s one thing I’ve learned about social, and for any kind of video marketing, it’s always about giving that person tons of value, and for free, and so then they’ll just say… They love your brand after that. They’re like, “Wow, I’m really getting a lot of stuff out of this. This is great. We’ll take a chance on that.” And so, that’s like my mantra. I just love… It kind of goes back to the teaching thing, I think.
Kurt Elster: Oh, for sure.
Dave Basulto: I love when I teach somebody something, they’re like, “That was great!” And I think the other day on that Premier Pro video, someone said, “This is the greatest Premier Pro video I’ve seen, because I really… It’s very easy to follow.” And that’s kind of how I teach. You’ll see a lot of people that are really technical, and I try, and I can be that way, but my business partner, Tony, says, “The biggest thing that you have is that you can talk it down onto any level, to make someone understand, and help them to gain knowledge in that area.” So, take great pride in that. I love doing those kind of videos.
Kurt Elster: And I think that’s one of the simple but not... simple but big mistakes people make early on, is especially when you’re in a niche or hobbyist demographic, then it’s very easy to go deep in the weeds, where you have like a ton of experience with it, and really speak to the people who are just as into it as you are, when you should be helping the people who are just starting out. You know, ideally creating like a series of content, but speaking to the people who are just looking for help getting started, and you show up and say, “Hey, here’s how to do it.” And then eventually help them along their journey.
So, then when it is time for them to buy products, to invest in whatever their hobby is, you’re top of mind. You’re the guy.
Dave Basulto: Yeah, it’s interesting, because people are like, “Have you reached out to the Hollywood connections? And tried to get them to do it?” And you know, we have, but my focus is more on the soccer mom, or the small business owner, or you know, that has this great… There’s a woman down the street, I’ll plug Mary Lane Café. If you’re in San Gabriel, amazing, fresh, home-cooked stuff. She’s a good friend of us, and I said, “You know what? You need to make little videos of your muffins, how you make them, how the butter melts on them,” and I’m telling her all these things, and all of a sudden she’s starting to do that, and you know, where before, she didn’t think about that. Then, “Oh, I could use my phone to do that? Okay.”
So, there’s millions of those people, compared to the big Hollywood people. You know? And so, I’d rather really cater to them, and help them to create stuff for their own businesses, and their own projects, and stuff like that.
Kurt Elster: So, right now, what’s your day-to-day look like? What are your big pains and struggles? What are you… How much of your day is creating this content, and what are the things that are keeping you up at night?
Dave Basulto: Okay, I get up in the morning. First thing I do is I check about 600 emails that come in from places around, so I deal with all that. Then I start to look at my calendar. What’s been helping me a lot lately is every night doing a list of what I gotta do tomorrow. I was very bad at all that. I’m very fly by the seat of your pants, but now that I have a nice schedule, I know what I have to do, and what I have to create. I have a 12-year-old son. I like to take him to school in the morning. I like to pick him up some lunch. I like to pick him up from school. We go swimming in the afternoon. We’re in California, where it’s still in the 80s.
So, I center all my stuff around that, and then the weekends, really it’s like Saturday and Sunday are my hardcore, make videos, go out and do fun stuff day with the video stuff, so those are my two content days, so the rest of the week I’m just planning what I’m gonna shoot on those two days. And then the rest of the time, I’m also… I have a great thing that I use called Agorapulse, which has helped me tremendously with scheduling social media posts. Myself and Amelia, my salesgirl, will do social media posts. We get them up there scheduled for a week in advance, so every day they go out, and you do stuff like that.
The biggest thing that I learned very late, and I’m once again so thankful for your show, was meeting the amazing Kurt Bullock.
Kurt Elster: Kurt Bullock. Yeah. Our marketing partner, our marketing manager, and he’s been on the show many times.
Dave Basulto: Yeah, he’s amazing, and so he’s been working with us for a couple months now on Facebook ads, which we never… It’s funny, because I took courses in Facebook ads, I went and tried to do my own Facebook ads. I bought software that said, “This is how you create the great, your great lists that you want it to go,” and everything was just… It could have been in Chinese to me, for all I know. So, I find this guy that knows his stuff, and he handles it, and we’re seeing a good return on investment, so that’s a headache that goes away, so I think the biggest thing for me is just because I’m someone that will like to dive into every aspect of the business, and when you’re running a worldwide company, you can’t do that. It’s impossible. And it’s just being able to give up and relieve yourself with people that are just amazing at what they do is worth its weight in gold.
And I think that’s the modern ecommerce world now, where you know, you have your core couple people, and then you have your people that are doing this, this, and this. Email marketing, whatever. And so, I’m lucky right now that we’re at a point where I feel really good about all that, where I was doing it all on my own before, learning Klayvio. I still don’t know it, but I have a great person doing Klayvio. You know, and then Kurt Bullock for Facebook. He introduced me to a great copywriter, so just everything’s been happening really well right now.
So, we’re in a really good place. I think this is gonna be… I’m feeling optimistic, but I think it’s gonna be a great holiday season, Black Friday, because just looking back a few years, we’ve had good ones, but I would send out one email. “Hey, we’re having a sale this weekend. Make sure you check it out!” And that was it. And you know, and then we would have our sale, and people, luckily they would find us. I don’t know how they found us, or whatever, just from social or whatever, but I never… I had no idea how to do all this. I may have a lot of talents, but I don’t know all this stuff. So, luckily now this year, we’ve got so many things in place, and content ready to go, and you know, it’s just… I honestly attribute it to your amazing show, and I think everyone needs to listen to the show that owns a store.
Kurt Elster: Oh, I appreciate that. So, you know clearly a ton about social media marketing and content creation. Give us the crash course. If I’m new to social media marketing content creation, I’ve got my Shopify store going, one of the best things people could do is create educational content around their niche. But that’s such a struggle for a lot of people, and I think it’s a matter of just getting started. So, help our listeners get unstuck with creating some educational video. What advice would you give them?
Dave Basulto: Sure. If you have a product, the number one thing… Well, first of all, go out there and buy your company name on every, or not buy, sign up for your company name on every social media network, and anytime anything comes up on social media, a new network, just sign up for it. TikTok, I don’t do anything for TikTok right now, but I’m partnering with our local high school for interns that I’m going to pay and give them free product to make TikTok videos for me. And so, you know, just go out there, get all your names for that.
So, okay, you’ve got all your names for your product, for your company. Next thing you’re gonna do is start throwing things on YouTube. Do an intro. Make about five videos before you start, but do some videos on your product, how does it work, overhead shots, this is how the whole thing works. Do some fun lifestyle stuff. We’re out here today filming our new product in the park, because dogs love… I think you use dog stuff all the time. Dogs out here are gonna play with this toy, blah, blah, blah, blah. Do some fun stuff like that.
The big thing is to get on something like vid… What is it called? There’s TubeBuddy and there’s another thing called Vid something, but TubeBuddy is a tool for YouTube that will help you find keywords that are gonna help your video start to rank, and look for other keywords that are relevant to your video, and tags and whatnot, and just start putting content up there about all of your stuff. Start your email list, like you tell people a million times. That’s so important. Oh my God, it’s just amazing. And get all that done.
So, you know, make five videos. Buy a cheap microphone, so we sell, for example, if you don’t want to use your little earbuds, and you want to upgrade, we sell a $39 microphone from IK Multimedia, iRig, SmartLab. I think I sent you one, didn’t I?
Kurt Elster: Yeah, actually it’s really good.
Dave Basulto: Yeah. I mean, for 39 bucks, and you could plug in your headphones to monitor the audio. I mean, it’s amazing. So, get that, plug it into your device, now you got some good audio. Go out right now and download an app called Filmic Pro. It’s both on Android, it’s on iOS. Filmic Pro is basically gonna take your camera on your iPhone, or iPad, or Android, and take it up 20 levels. It’s like putting steroids into it.
Kurt Elster: Well, you know, it’s funny. Earlier I mentioned that Soderbergh had filmed movies on an iPhone. They’re edited on Filmic Pro.
Dave Basulto: Yeah. No, shoots everything in Filmic Pro, so this-
Kurt Elster: Shoots it. Sorry. Yeah.
Dave Basulto: … this allows you… what it does is it allows you to, instead of shooting whatever the megabits per second that the iPhone may do, maybe it’s gonna do 50 megabits per second, now you’re gonna shoot in 4K if your phone allows you, and you can use 100 megabits per second, which will rival any DSLR, or any camera like that. I guarantee it.
Kurt Elster: Oh, okay, so the… I’ve noticed video I shoot on the phone looks compressed, looks a little funky-
Dave Basulto: Yes. Yes.
Kurt Elster: … when I load it into… by the time I’ve put it into… I use Final Cut, not Premier. By the time I load it in my editing software, and you know, I could see it on a 30-inch monitor, compared to my other stuff. Even though it’s 4K, you can really see, like, “Okay, this thing got stepped on.”
Dave Basulto: Absolutely. Yeah. And I’m a Final Cut guy, too. I use both things. I’m ambidextrous, I should say. And so, Filmic Pro now, so not only can you shoot it in 4K, 100 megabits per second, uncompressed, you can go in there and change the color scheme of it, so if you want to color correct it and look really pro, you can… They have settings in there where you can go from normal to like a flat, like a LOG format, which is completely flattened colors, so when you color later on, it’s what all the movies do in real life. You can make these things stand out like crazy with a little color correction.
Kurt Elster: So, it’s shooting in like the equivalent of DLOG-
Dave Basulto: Exactly.
Kurt Elster: And then I throw my lookup table on it later.
Dave Basulto: Damn, I love you. That’s exactly it. That’s exactly it.
Kurt Elster: Well, once I start messing with the drones, that’s when I really upped my video editing game. That helped me a lot.
Dave Basulto: Yes. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kurt Elster: Okay, sorry.
Dave Basulto: So then, the other vital thing about Filmic Pro is it’s one of the only, if not the only app I’ve come across that allows you to monitor your audio. So, I can change the gain inside of there, how much audio’s coming in with a little slider. I have level bars going off, so I can see if I’m peaking or not. So, you’re really gonna get great quality audio. You can listen and make sure you have it, so you don’t have any problems later on in post, because that’s the worst thing. You have this great device, you’re filming, you’ve been recording some great information, you take it into the Final Cut, and all of a sudden it’s all scratchy. Oh my God, it cut out. Blah, blah, blah, blah.
So, those are some tools that you vitally have to… you need. Also, if you have Filmic Pro, and you have an Apple Watch or another device, and this is one of my all-time favorite things. You have a remote control for Filmic Pro. So now, now, and this is big for me, because I used to… I was a, “Hi, honey. Can you come and push the play button now?” You know. Now I set everything up wherever I am, I look on my Apple Watch. Am I in frame and everything? Okay, press record. Boom, I’m going. You know? So, it’s an amazing app. I think it’s $20, I think it is now. But it’s worth every penny. And if you guys have seen the new Apple iPhones with the three lenses, so Filmic Pro’s releasing a new update this fall, I think at Christmas time, that allows you to capture two different angles, so you can go wide angle and telephoto at the same time, or wide angle and normal at the same time, or selfie and normal at the same time, whatever. It lets you catch two angles at the same time.
So, let’s say I have my phone set up, and I’m filming my product that I have. I could have the back phone, the camera facing me working as well, so I’m explaining this while I’m fiddling around with my stuff, and now I’ve got two shots that I can use later in post, to show people… make my video there. Instead of having a bunch of different cameras. So, it’s absolutely amazing. This is like the only app I tell people, “You have to have, or don’t talk to me.”
Kurt Elster: That’s super cool. I had no idea about this thing. Yeah, as you were talking through it, I already went and bought it. It was 15 bucks.
Dave Basulto: 15 bucks? Okay. Well, they’re gonna hit you inside, there’s an upgrade for a cinematographer kit unless you bought that. Yeah. I think it’s like nine bucks.
Kurt Elster: Those rascals.
Dave Basulto: Yeah. Nine bucks for that, but that’s worth it, too.
Kurt Elster: Lastly, I have in here that you are going to give away a Multi Case.
Dave Basulto: Well, no, I think we’re gonna give away three of them, because-
Kurt Elster: Oh, all right.
Dave Basulto: … this is the greatest show ever on the internet, and if you guys are doing anything with Shopify or ecommerce in general, this is the show. You have to watch Kurt’s show. It’s just the greatest. In fact, on my way back this morning from dropping my son off, I was listening to the one with the golf guy. Sully, is it?
Kurt Elster: Sully. Yeah. Tyler Sully Sullivan.
Dave Basulto: And I have a Facebook page that’s got 40,000 people on there, but what he talked about was making a group of just owners only, and it’s very simple to pull out your owners using Klayvio. I could just say, “Who’s bought this?” Right? So now, invite them to the private group, where they’re gonna get special discounts, and the VIP stuff, and ask questions, and these are actual users of everything, and I’m like, “That is genius. Why didn’t I think of that?” But I learned it on your show, so there you go.
Kurt Elster: I absolutely love when people give me their key takeaways from the show, because it’s… I have never been good at predicting what will and won’t resonate with people, is one of my failings, so when people tell me like, “Wow! This is the thing that really helped me. This is the key thing,” that’s very helpful for me, so that I know like, “Okay, this is the content that moves the needle on people’s businesses, so this is the stuff we gotta look for.” So, thank you for sharing that with me.
Dave Basulto: Now, I will say, because we’re gonna give three of these away, because it’s coming into the holiday season, I’m gonna have to give you also our flexible tripod, because what good is the case if you can’t put it somewhere sometimes, you know? So, we’re gonna do three flexible tripods and three cases to three lucky winners. Now, I don’t want to pick them myself. I would love you or Paul to do it, because I’m horrible at that. I’ll end up giving everybody one, and lose all my money, so there you go.
Kurt Elster: All right, so here’s how we’ll do it. Join our Facebook group. Search Unofficial Shopify Podcast on Facebook, join the Unofficial Shopify Podcast Insiders, or follow the link in the show notes. This will be a featured post for seven days. It’ll be marked as an announcement. So, on here, on this post, comment. Say, “Hey, I want to win it!” Do whatever it is, and Paul and I will pick three winners after seven days. So, whenever this episode goes live, you got… Run and do it. You got a few days to do it.
Dave Basulto: The clock’s ticking.
Kurt Elster: Very cool. Wow. Yeah, actually we’ve got… You sent me a lovely care package with a lot of your products, and I’ve been using them. I told you before, I was in Vegas for SEMA, the aftermarket car parts show, and I used it, the lens adapter, I used that to augment what I was carrying. Because I had my big DSLR with me, and I didn’t want to carry multiple lenses, but I’m in a confined space, with big… You know, you’re in a 10x10 booth with a car. All right, well, you’re gonna need a wide-angle lens, so I actually used the wide-angle, the ultra wide-angle setup for the phone that you gave me, and that worked perfectly.
I wish I’d known about Filmic Pro. That would have helped me. You sent me your book. I should have read it. I would have known.
Dave Basulto: Oh! Well, you didn’t read the book? Forget it.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. No, I screwed up. The tripod setup, if you’ve watched the YouTube version of the show that we’ve started doing, that’s when you see Paul, he’s… We’re filming, all three angles are on smartphones, and Paul’s is on your tripod.
Okay. Where can people go to learn more about you?
Dave Basulto: We are at iOgrapher everywhere. I-O-G-R-A-P-H-E-R. I am Dave at iOgrapher, so if you want to reach me directly, feel free to. I love talking to everybody, and it’s just a great time.
Kurt Elster: Dave, this has been inspiring, and engaging, and interesting, and I thank you for being here, and I’m glad you’re out here making videography more accessible for everybody, because it is such a wonderful and universal human way to share all of our stories and market ourselves. So, valuable, valuable and important skill that you are sharing with the world. Thank you.
Dave Basulto: Well, Kurt, I think you, and I feel I’ve made it to the bigtime by being on this podcast, and I’m just very happy now to… I can kind of fade away into the sunset today.