Plenty of filmmakers have gone through hardships making their dreams into reality. Robert Rodriguez literally served as a human guinea pig to raise money for El Mariachi, for example, and Kevin Smith sold his comic-book collection to help pay for Clerks (and if you know anything about Kevin Smith, you know that must have been hard for him). But those guys were both young, hungry directors without the resources of, say, a two-time Golden Globe nominee with his own TV series and a Woody Allen movie under his belt. Regardless, Louis CK tells Howard Stern that his new web series, Horace And Pete, has left him millions of dollars in debt.
The reason for that lies in CK’s unconventional business model for the show, i.e. funding the entire thing himself and then releasing it as a Saturday-afternoon surprise. CK says he became so enamored with the idea of surprising fans, he kind of forgot he had to sell the thing as well:
I didn’t tell anybody about it cause here’s the thing: I got so excited by the idea of having a show appear from nothing. So I made the first four and I didn’t tell nobody, and it made a nice little amount of money, but when I got to episode four I was like “Hey gang, I don’t have any money!” So I had to take out a line of credit.
So while that strategy may have resulted in lots of press and critical praise, apparently that didn’t translate into actual sales. Episodes of the show cost a reported $500,000 apiece, which, at the discounted rate of $3 to download the series finale, means CK will have to sell more than 166,000 individual downloads before he can give actors like Steve Buscemi and Alan Alda their cut. As a result, as CK tells Stern, “I’m millions of dollars in debt right now.” That’s something to drink about, all right.