Reaching $100K/Month By Creating More Blockbuster Effects Packs For Filmmakers

Published: November 16th, 2022
Steven Liszka
from Los Angeles, Californie, États-Unis
started January 2015
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Hey! My name is Steven Liszka, I’m from Paris, France, and I’m the founder of the Hollywood-based company BIGFILMS. I started BIGFILMS as a side project in 2015. At that time, I was desperately looking for a way to fund my short film ASTRONAUT, which would eventually become the first short film to be ever shot in Space (you can read more about this exciting story in my previous interviews for Starter Story).


Today BIGFILMS has become one of the largest platforms for Blockbuster Effects for filmmakers. You can see our effects everywhere: in short films, music videos, commercials, and even movies (I talked about how the John Wick franchise used one of our VFX Packs in this interview for Starter Story).

Our online community has grown a lot since last year, and the revenues have been going up too. This year we hit $100K for the first time in May as we launched our brand new DESTRUCTION Pack. This has been a big milestone for us.

We’re also about to launch a big project at the beginning of 2023 that will redefine our business strategy. I’ll talk more about this in this interview.

We still heavily rely on Facebook ads, and I believe that Facebook and Instagram ads are still very relevant.

Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

This year has been an exciting one. We released 3 of our flagship products that were highly expected by our customers.

In January, we launched our SUPERHEROES Pack, which allows you to easily create superhero effects in your productions. It has been a massive success! To this date, it’s one of our top best sellers.

In May, we finished working on the greatest product we’ve ever made: the DESTRUCTION Pack. This product took us 1.5 years to create, and I’m extremely proud of the result. For the first time, we gave access to massive destruction effects to filmmakers. Before we released this pack, these destruction effects were only accessible to major Hollywood studios that were creating them for big-budget movies (like San Andreas, 2012, Transformers, etc.).

Creating this pack was a huge financial investment for us, but going beyond what customers expect from us has always been the DNA of our company. This is what sets us apart from the competition. And this is why our community of filmmakers is so engaged and supportive whenever we come up with something new.

And luckily for us, the risk paid! There have been so many purchases on the day of the launch that our servers crashed. We’ve never seen such a craze, even during Black Friday!

This year we’ve seen an explosion of individuals and companies stealing our products and selling them on their websites as their own. Most platforms (like Google, Shopify, or Facebook) allow you to report illegal activities, but in most cases, they don’t help you.

And finally, our last pack of the year was launched a few days ago, at the beginning of October. We’ve been very lucky with this one because TV shows like House of the Dragon and The Rings of Power aired at the same time as we released our pack, and they share the same themes as our new DARK MAGIC Pack: magic powers and dragons!

Those 3 new products not only allowed us to scale our revenues, but they also played a big role in setting our brand apart from the competitors. When people visit BIGFILMS’ website, they come for products that they won’t find anywhere else.

What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

We faced three major challenges this year:

1/ Facebook Ads performance

Since Apple’s iOS14 update, Facebook (Meta) has been having a hard time tracking users on Apple’s devices. This had two major consequences: video ads are no more shown to the right audience, and the ad’s costs skyrocketed.

We still heavily rely on Facebook ads, and I believe that Facebook and Instagram ads are still very relevant. But you have to rethink your strategy if you’re using them. Here’s what has worked for us:

  • We made the message more straightforward: you want people to immediately understand if the product is for them (or not). You don’t want people who are not interested in your offer to click on your link
  • Retargeting plays a much bigger role now
  • Our ads are much more spectacular. People share them a lot, and this is free advertising

2/ Thieves

This year we’ve seen an explosion of individuals and companies stealing our products - literally downloading them and selling them on their websites as their own.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to protect yourself against it. Most platforms (like Google, Shopify, or Facebook) allow you to report illegal activities, but in most cases, they don’t help you.

We now have a legal team that takes care of taking down illegal websites. This is a long and costly process, and it’s not always worth the money and the effort you spend. But at a certain point, you need to protect your brand.

3/ Copycats

When you’re doing something right, and you’re successful at it, many competitors will try to imitate you. Some of them will shamelessly copy your products and your marketing strategies. Be prepared for it. It’s part of the game.

This year, we saw the leader of the VFX stock footage platforms copying our flagship packs. Their video ads suddenly changed to look almost like ours.

I found it flattering. When you try to imitate others instead of developing your own identity, this means that you feel threatened.

You always have to be one step ahead of the others when you’re creating something original. So that when people start to copy your work, you already have a new strategy in place to outpace them.

And that’s exactly what we’re putting in place for the next few months.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

Be unique! Don’t try to be like the other brands, be yourself. And that’s harder than you think.

Invest in what sets you apart from others. What people love about BIGFILMS is our ability to showcase our products with exciting videos. We not only create blockbuster effects. We also make blockbuster short films with these effects to show people what they can achieve with our products.

And that’s what makes our brand unique. Being a filmmaker myself, I use my knowledge and my passion to make the most exciting videos for our community. For our last DARK MAGIC Pack, we traveled to 4 different countries (France, Norway, Scotland, US) to shoot a dozen of action scenes that we now use to promote our new pack.

You can see one of the videos we’ve made here:

As an entrepreneur, you need to spend most of your time thinking about marketing. How do you show others that your brand is unique?

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

A few years ago, I would have said that we would launch hundreds of projects for the next 5 years.

But since then, I have understood one major rule when you’re an entrepreneur: launch one project at a time. Don’t try to over-diversify your activity. Instead, focus on building strong foundations.

We have one major project which we will focus on for the next few years. We’re currently in the process of building an amazing subscription-based platform that will come with a brand-new concept. Something that you have never seen on a subscription platform before.

I can’t say too much about it now, as we haven’t launched the platform yet, but this project is big!

So I would say that our goal for the next 5 years is to continue growing with a steady source of income. We have some amazing marketing strategy ideas that we want to test out very soon, and we also focus on producing educational and entertaining content for our audience through our social media platforms.

If you’re a filmmaker and you want to learn how to add visual effects to your projects, our Youtube channel is a great place to start. And if you’re looking for exciting blockbuster video content, you should consider subscribing to our Instagram page.

What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

Well, I would say The Star Wars Archives. 1999-2005 by TASCHEN.

I never read business-related books. But I have to admit that George Lucas, as a filmmaker, and even more as an entrepreneur, has always been a great inspiration for me.

His businesses were all built around his passions, and this is something that I have always applied to my entrepreneurial journey.

You have to love what you do to be the best at it.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their businesses?

Always persevere. I recently came across an interview with Darren Aronofsky (the film director of Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, and Black Swan). He was giving his Ten Commandments of Indie Filmmaking. And most of them apply to a business.

Here are two commandments that speak to me:

“Make the film (or business) only you can make.”

That’s why people will follow you. Because your approach is unique.

Don’t follow a blueprint. Let me give you a quick example in the filmmaking industry: have you noticed how we don’t know the names of the filmmakers making big blockbuster movies anymore? Back in the ’80s and the ’90s (and even early 2000s), we all knew Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Quentin Tarantino, Peter Jackson, and James Cameron. They were making movies that only they could make.

Today, Hollywood has evolved, and movies are made following a strict recipe. A formula, a blueprint that makes all the blockbuster movies look the same.

Today it’s easy to start a business by watching Youtube videos and learning from online courses. But by doing this, you take the risk of creating a business that’s not unique.

Instead, I would encourage you to learn by yourself. To create a business that’s not perfect, but that will have its own identity. More than ever, people are looking for authenticity.

“Persistence is 9/10 of the game.”

There are always going to be challenged, no matter what level you're at. So what separates a successful business from the competition? Persistence.

I’m not a big fan of the man, but I always liked this quote from Ray Kroc:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Not currently. But we’re always looking to collaborate with creative people. Shoot us an email if you like our brand and the philosophy that’s behind it!

Where can we go to learn more?