Episode 02 of ‘Running Rampant’ – Film Riot, Funding and the Flu.
Sean and Stefanie Mullen talk about working on a Film Riot sketch, how to self fund and dealing with the flu while running the business.
►See more behind the scenes of Rampant Design here: runningrampant.biz/
►Film Riot Force Push Episode:
►Sean’s interview on Broadcast Beat:
►Sean and Stef Travel videos:
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[toggle title=”Video Transcription”]Running Rampant Vlog Episode 02 Video Transcription
Sean Mullen: Hey hey everybody, I’m Sean.
Stefanie Mullen: I’m Stef.
Sean Mullen: We are right here Rampant Design. Welcome to episode number two of Running Rampant, a little show that takes you behind the scenes of Rampant Design, talks about what it’s like to run a small business and let’s you ask any questions, which is dangerous but we’ll take any questions that you have for us, about pretty much anything, keep it PG.
Stefanie Mullen: On today’s episode we’re going to talk about Film Riot, funding and the flu.
Sean Mullen: That’s right. Episode two and I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, how are you feeling today?
Stefanie Mullen: Not quite the truck status but I’ve been better.
Sean Mullen: It’s been a crazy week. I got to work on Film Riot which is a bucket list thing for me, it was pretty amazing. You can see the link right down here to check out the entire episode but it was an amazing experience, I got to work with one of my all time favorite directors, working on one of my favorite shows and I’ve been lucky to work with big directors like Oliver Stone, Glen Larson, Aaron Spelling, producers and directors and now I get to work with Ryan. He was actually a very cool guy.
Stefanie Mullen: He’s very cool.
Sean Mullen: He’s very nice and-
Stefanie Mullen: Very, very, very nice.
Sean Mullen: It was a real honor to work on the show. It was a lot of fun and part of doing the show I had to do a tutorial, well I recorded that tutorial with about 102, 103 fever and I’m pretty sure I have about that same fever now. I also did an interview on Broadcast Beat which was awesome with the world famous Ryan Salazar, also with a fever.
Stefanie Mullen: It’s been a fever week, we’ve been sick this week.
Sean Mullen: It’s basically I can’t call in sick. If I call in sick who’s going to take over for me?
Stefanie Mullen: We don’t have any other employees.
Sean Mullen: No, this is it right here.
Stefanie Mullen: There’s nobody else to do it.
Sean Mullen: Because we’re committed to doing this show I’m drowning in NyQuil and coffee and other medicine. I’m 80% sure I’m hallucinating all of this but we’re going to push through it and get this done because we got a lot of support from episode one, tons of comments, phone calls.
Stefanie Mullen: We did.
Sean Mullen: Phone calls, we got phone calls about-
Stefanie Mullen: We did get phone calls.
Sean Mullen: That’s pretty wild.
Stefanie Mullen: That was pretty neat.
Sean Mullen: Yes phone calls.
Stefanie Mullen: Pretty cool. Something else that got started this week was the runningrampant.biz site. The website’s up and running.
Sean Mullen: All her.
Stefanie Mullen: Built all that out this week, it looks pretty cool, I’m pretty happy with it. I like the way it came out, so go check it out. You can actually go there and subscribe to iTunes. We have a Stitcher account now and you can see our vlogs there so you can subscribe to YouTube as well. We also have SoundCloud, so iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and YouTube. You can never miss Running Rampant, there’s really no excuse. We’re everywhere that you want to be. Take us in your car, take us on a run, we’re that exciting.
Sean Mullen: Don’t take us on a run, that’s just really sad.
Stefanie Mullen: You can take us wherever you need to take us and we’ll be there. Subscribe to any of those things and if you want to, which would be really, really, really cool on iTunes if you have Mac, that iTunes leave a review for us.
Sean Mullen: You can do it on a PC as well, I don’t know why it’s a Mac thing but yes.
Stefanie Mullen: I didn’t know that.
Sean Mullen: It’s all the same.
Stefanie Mullen: I learned something today, so if you have iTunes go and subscribe there and leave us a review. It helps our standing and our ranking and all that stuff which is … I guess it’s important.
Sean Mullen: Don’t hate on her too much for the whole Mac thing, she’s [inaudible 00:03:25] Stef, she’s unaware of anything outside of the Mac universe so it’s all good.
Stefanie Mullen: I like Macs, sorry I like Macs. Other than that, that’s all we did this week. We had the site go live.
Sean Mullen: For those of you out there who work in WordPress or Coding, I’m really, really impressed with Stef’s work. She ripped this site out in a matter of hours, put it together because she felt the need to make a landing page specifically for Running Rampant. It went from concept to completion in a matter of hours, so I’m really, really, really impressed with Stefanie’s work ethic and her coding because on top of all the coding she’s answering phone calls, answering emails, I mean the phone does not stop ringing, it really doesn’t. I could not be more proud of Stefanie and her work. Check it out, let us know what you think, go to runningrampant.biz and check out the site, tell us what you think.
Stefanie Mullen: Yes, so that’s it. That’s pretty much the week for us besides Sean having the flu and trying to get him better with the Film Riot thing which was really, really cool, love the Film Riot gang, they’re amazing, they’re just amazing.
Sean Mullen: Ryan and Josh, everybody there, you work with a lot of directors, I’ve been working as a visual text artist for over 20 years. I worked with a lot of directors both independent and Hollywood and you never know what you’re going to get into and I truly am saying this that Ryan’s one of the nicest guys I’ve worked with. I’m not being paid to say that or anything, he really truly is as kind as you would think he is and that’s always a reassuring thing in this industry.
Stefanie Mullen: He’s really nice.
Sean Mullen: Yes, those guys they’re all phenomenal.
Stefanie Mullen: The episode is really cool, you should go check it out.
Sean Mullen: It was a lot of fun.
Stefanie Mullen: It’s pushing a car with force or forcefully pushing.
Sean Mullen: Otherwise known as-
Stefanie Mullen: Whatever it’s called.
Sean Mullen: Otherwise known as the force push. Here’s the part of the show where we take questions and believe it or not we got a lot of questions from one episode. That’s what we were tripping on that between phone calls and messages and emails and other ways, friends texting and what not we’ve got a lot of comments on one episode, it’s pretty wild. We got a couple comments.
Stefanie Mullen: Our first question is from Ted and Ted asks, I’ve been in the biz since 1990, taught production work at high schools and home schools and worked for numerous companies and myself. The most satisfying work was anything on my own but I never could do it full-time. How do you keep it going on your own, any tips?
Sean Mullen: This one hits really close to home for me.
Stefanie Mullen: This is a great question.
Sean Mullen: This is a good question.
Stefanie Mullen: This is for everybody, freelancers or this really applies to a lot of people.
Sean Mullen: For sure.
Stefanie Mullen: Here’s our story about that kind of stuff.
Sean Mullen: As any of you know, full-time in production is not 40 hours, there’s no such thing as a 40 hour workweek, at least not for me and I’ve been doing this for 20 years. In my career, whether it’s been in Hollywood or corporate or freelance or whatever, I’ve never worked a 40 hour job, it’s always been way longer, 60 to 80 hours is about the average, sometimes as much as 100 or more. That being said, I would work my 60, 80 hour job and then come home regardless of whatever time of night it was and then I’d sit down, I’d have some dinner with Stef and then I’d go to my office and I’d start working Rampant for a full-time job.
I’d do another eight hours or whatever I could before I had to go back to work. I’d sleep for about an hour, then go back to my day job and do it all over again. Then on the weekends it was all Rampant all the time. Not saying that’s the healthiest thing for you, it’s not really great for your brain but if you really want to get off the grid you have to be dedicated and surround yourself with people who support you. I could have never done this if it wasn’t for Stefanie. She would always remind me, hey this is what you want, this is what we want, let’s just keep pushing forward. It was so insane that I never saw Stefanie so you put a cot in my office.
Stefanie Mullen: I did, I knew we were doing this new business thing and I was working full-time and Sean was working full-time and I never saw him so I was like what’s going on? How can I be more a part of this, so I actually put a cot behind Sean’s desk in our office and said well here I am. I would do my grading on my papers and any kind of teacher stuff I would do it right there with him because I felt like I never got to see him and that was most of the first two years of Rampant he was working full-time and then … Actually three years, the first three years of Rampant working full-time with doing Rampant as the freelance gig. It was a lot of work and it takes a lot of work to do it. It is not something that happens overnight and everybody says that it’s just an overnight success, well that’s definitely not us. If that’s you that’s great but it wasn’t our story.
Sean Mullen: If that’s you call me. I want to know you’re recipe, I want to know your secret.
Stefanie Mullen: It’s hard and for freelancing as well it is take yourself away from doing it and even those three years we sort of … It just ended up being that we ended up breaking the cord and realizing after doing cost analysis of what are our bills, how much do we need to survive? We have this, can we do this with Rampant and we were like yes we can do this, we can pay our bills, pay Rampant’s bills, we don’t need a full-time job anymore with the full-time responsibility of Rampant as well. It’s one of those things where if you are a freelancer and you still are working, you’re working two jobs it’s very difficult but my biggest tip for that would be to sit down and be honest with yourself. Say these are my bills, this is what I have to pay, this is how much I have to bring in and if you can honestly bring that in by yourself do it by yourself, that’s …
Sean Mullen: Well look, it’s easier said then done. The very first couple months that we were truly off the grid was a nightmare.
Stefanie Mullen: It was scary.
Sean Mullen: I’m a huge worrier, she’s far more the balanced human being in this bunch. I am highs and lows all the time, I’m your quintessential artist, I’m just all over the place and she handles that so she deserves a raise. It’s rough, it’s just rough, you’re constantly looking at each other going how are we going to pay this bill? It always works out and that’s great but we bootstrap the company. Every dime that comes back into the company we put it right back into the company, so we don’t do a lot of things.
Once a year we go on vacation and Stefanie likes to make fun videos so if you want to see that we’ll put a link to our videos on there, we do fun stuff. Because we make videos for a living why not do it when you’re not working? I don’t really have an answer for that. The thing that’s difficult with pulling off the grid is it’s all about fear and we’ve got a few friends that helped support us. Having her, having each other has been crucial, you cannot do this … If your partner does not believe in what you’re doing this is not going to happen for you period. The fact that not only is she a part of Rampant but she’s a supporter of it means that we’re going to succeed.
I have about three friends that I like to call out about this particular subject. Our buddy Mike [Brizel 00:10:30], he taught us something called fear and it’s false evidence appearing real. A lot of the times when people are projecting on you and telling you you can’t do this they’re really saying they can’t do this. They’re too also afraid of trying to pull off the grid and trying to do something different. Entrepreneurship and running your own business is not for everybody, there’s the highest highs and the lowest lows. I’ve had the absolute best time and the absolute worst time. I mean we’ve been stolen from, from four different companies we’ve been stolen from. I’m not saying someone took our idea and ran with it, that’s fine, that’s the free market, that’s a wonderful thing for the customers.
I’m talking about they went into our library, took my effects that I’ve worked hard on, change the file name and sold them and take credit for them, that’s happened four times. Then you get lawyers involved and nonsense, I mean it’s enough to make you physically ill. I mean you get depressed, so on top of the money you got all that nonsense, so why do you keep doing it? You surround yourself with a network of people who have the same ideas, so I got Mike Brizel who has told us time and time again to keep moving forward and that’s our mantra here, keep moving forward. No matter what every little bit helps towards your goal.
Stefanie Mullen: You’re always going to run into an issue.
Sean Mullen: Of course, of course.
Stefanie Mullen: We tackle each issue everyday and move a little bit forward towards our goal for Rampant. There’s always going to be a hurdle, there’s always going to be an obstacle and by us always knowing that well let’s just do it, there’s no … We don’t have the luxury of saying we’re not going to tackle it, we have to so we do it and we keep going and Mike has helped us with that and keeping us on track and going, trying to get to the finish line.
Sean Mullen: It helps to surround yourself with people, even if they’re not in the same industry. If you know somebody else who’s an entrepreneur or doing something unique, reach out to them, you’ll never know. I have a friend Steven, he’s an artist, he goes by the name Voice, he used to run the show Gamer Nerds. He and I talk offline all the time about what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, what it’s like to put yourself out there and be vulnerable and what it’s like to do something different, he’s been invaluable to me personally. The of course to us we’re good friends with iOgrapher, the guy who runs iOgrapher is Dave Basulto. He is an amazing human being and has been nothing but kind to us and he’s far further along in the industry than we are in terms of running a successful business.
He has really helped us with positivity and guidance. Just telling us about what it’s like from his perspective. It’s really important to reach out to people, you’d be surprised that if you were kind and send an email to somebody they’ll probably write you back. We’re super grateful for all the people who helped us behind the scenes for sure.
Stefanie Mullen: Yes, it’s definitely an effort by a group of people, it’s not just us. Everybody, customers to friends, to colleagues, to other business, people that you meet, you can take a little bit from every time you see somebody and store it away and keep that, keep a journal, keep whatever you need to do to keep you propelling towards your goal is what you need to do and that’s what we do. It’s hard, it’s not easy but-
Sean Mullen: Keep moving forward, that seems almost trite but it really helps me. Keep moving forward, do one thing every single day that will get you toward your goal and before you know it you will be there. That’s probably the best advice I have for Ted.
Stefanie Mullen: Yes, you can do it.
Sean Mullen: Absolutely, anybody can do this.
Stefanie Mullen: Don’t think that you can’t even though it isn’t for everybody, if you want to do it you can do it but there is a lot of fear and …
Sean Mullen: There’s still fear to this day.
Stefanie Mullen: Oh yes.
Sean Mullen: It’s been years since we’ve had a regular paycheck but there’s fear. There’s times where the market is slow and you’re like whoa, maybe I should get some freelance working going or maybe I should reach out to some clients and see if they need any animation or compositing work. You start to panic a little bit, you start to sweat going well what’s going to happen now, what’s going on?
Stefanie Mullen: We have that, we have low months where we have to pull it in and try to cut our spending down, we don’t have a lot of wiggle room with Rampant because we’re so tight as it is as far as our budget goes but we’ll stop eating, instead of having chicken we have spaghetti. You take out where you can take out and if it takes taking a $10 meal and making it a $1 then that’s what we do.
Sean Mullen: For sure.
Stefanie Mullen: You start taking away those extra utilities if you don’t need them like cable and there are ways that we do to keep our budget down and Rampant’s our last pull from, so we always pull from us personally and then we go to Rampant. We really try to give everything we can to Rampant.
Sean Mullen: We don’t really do a whole lot outside of Rampant, which is not good for us. We try to go to the parks and stuff and we go on one vacation a year, one week a year we completely pull off the grid. For the most part we just don’t, everything goes back to the company because it’s still small, it’s like trying to keep a fire going, you just have to keep stoking it, you have to keep making sure that nothing’s putting it out. Surround yourself with people who are like minded. Make sure that the people in your group are positive and supportive. If they’re not you might want to consider cutting them out of your group and that’s a hard thing to do, but make sure that everyone around you is supportive of you, otherwise you may have to start cutting people out of your contact list. Next up.
Stefanie Mullen: The next question comes from Cory and Cory asks, you mentioned taxes in your last episode and I’m wondering if I should do my taxes myself or go to a place like H&R Block.
Sean Mullen: This is all her.
Stefanie Mullen: This is a great question and before Rampant I would have said just do H&R Block or do it yourself online, it’s easy. Now I’ve learned with the business and us personally that there are a little bit of differences. My answer to that would be that if you have W2s and you don’t have any 1099s, so you’re not a contractor for anybody and you don’t have any deductions then definitely you can probably do your taxes online, there’s a million sites, Turbo Tax, H&R Block. All of them have it, we’ve used them before when we were working full-time.
Now that we have Rampant and Sean’s a contractor with Rampant, so he gets 1099s now and Rampant’s a whole separate issue. If you have 1099s and you have deductions find someone who understands being a contractor. Don’t go to H&R Block, they’re just a … I’m sorry for anybody, I’m not trying to make H&R Block mad but they don’t have your personal interest in their best interest for them. If you want to go find a CPA who understands what it is to be a contractor, who understands 1099s and understands your deductions. Interview them, ask them if they know I have these deductions, I’m doing travel stuff, I have equipment and all this stuff. They should know how to put all that into as a write-off or whatever they’re going to do with it. Definitely do not do your taxes yourself which is what we said last time. You can do them online if you have W2s and no deductions, but if you are 1099, contractor with deductions, find a CPA who is qualified to handle that and I would stay away from those mass guys because I don’t trust them.
Sean Mullen: Sometimes you just need to spend the money and it’s going to be a little bit more expensive than H&R Block but they’ll have your best interest at heart and that’s how you interview them. I work for a special niche industry, here’s the kind of things that I work with, here’s the kind of gear that I use, camera equipment, computers, internet costs, Dropbox, whatever. Find someone who understands oh these are the costs of doing business. H&R Block doesn’t necessarily know that, a lot of these people are part-time, they’re only working for H&R Block during tax season and then they’re off doing something else. You might want to find someone who’s a little more qualified, who can take the time to go oh, wait a second and they should ask you the right questions. Take a little time and find the right accountant for you, I know it’s saved us quite a bit of money over the years, so do what you can. If money’s super tight where you have to do something that’s free then do what you can but you’ll end up making your money back very quickly I think.
Stefanie Mullen: Yes and you’re always keeping yourself safe. When you start doing deductions and stuff you want to have somebody who has your back if you did get an audit, that big audit word is scary in the tax world, so cover your butt.
Sean Mullen: I don’t know what I’d do if I had to have H&R Block defend me at an IRS audit, that’s kind of frightening.
Stefanie Mullen: That’s it.
Sean Mullen: We’re trying to keep this episode a little bit shorter.
Stefanie Mullen: Keeping it short for you. That’s all for this week.
Sean Mullen: Yes, that’s it. Thank you for all your comments, we were flooded with comments. I wish I had the comment about the comic book store, we’d love to … Somebody wrote about a comic book store, I have no idea what you’re saying.
Stefanie Mullen: We don’t own a comic book store.
Sean Mullen: I would like to own a comic book store I guess, are they profitable?
Stefanie Mullen: I don’t know.
Sean Mullen: I’m always looking to add to our portfolio but we don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. If you could cut right back and tell us what you meant by what are you guys doing with the comic book store. I mean if there’s a Rampant comic book store I’d like to know about it, so that would be pretty cool.
Stefanie Mullen: That’d be neat.
Sean Mullen: No idea what you’re talking about but thank you to everybody for all of your comments, we were actually flooded with comments more so than we expected considering it was our very first episode and just a trial thing, I had no idea what it was going to be. Thank you for going on this journey with us, I’ll let you take us home here.
Stefanie Mullen: Don’t forget to subscribe, remember you can go to runningrampant.biz, that’s dot biz. You’ll see our vlog there, you can also subscribe to iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud, everything is there, you can leave a review there, you can leave a comment there, you can do a lot there. Go check that out, subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode of Running Rampant and that’s about that.
As always, don’t forget your comments and questions, we love hearing them and we love reading them and it makes us think which is fun.
Sean Mullen: I always like to be forced to think. Make sure to check out in the next episode, I believe we’re going to be on the road next episode, we’re shooting effects in New York City and in New Jersey, so that’s fun.
Stefanie Mullen: The Big Apple.
Sean Mullen: We will be on the road for that one.
Stefanie Mullen: Garden State.
Sean Mullen: That will be an interesting … It’s going to all be recorded on the fly, so we’re working with our good friends at SeaLight Entertainment so shooting brand new effects for 2016, looking forward to that, that’s about it. Thanks for watching everybody and once again I’m Sean.
Stefanie Mullen: I’m Stef.
Sean Mullen: We’re Rampant Design.
Stefanie Mullen: Bye.