A high school student entangles his community in a multilevel marketing scheme.

Sales Ready stars Jacob Wysocki as Alister, the leader of a young sales force who deals in cutlery. Alister is a passionate and charismatic leader but is revealed to be a pawn, lost in a multilevel marketing scheme. Misguided by his self-involved father, Alister must find a way to end the manipulative cycle he has perpetuated. Directed by Philip Steiger, Sales Ready is a character focus film with powerful performances by both Jacob and Johnny Ray Meeks. The film also features Mary Holland (The Katy Universe) & Julie Brister.

Why Sales Ready?

This movie is based around Cutco Cutlery and Vector Marketing, a very prominent multilevel marketing scheme in American suburbs. I grew up in a small town in Western Massachusetts where Vector Marketing had a very strong presence. I was constantly getting Cutco recruitment calls and setting appointments for my parents to pity purchase cutlery from my friends. We must’ve had half a dozen “salesmen” set up sales pitch meetings that always entailed a penny being cut. And my mother buying a knife she didn’t really need.

After years of forging my way into the film industry, I really wanted to capture the false hopes of the gig economy. The facade of being your own boss and making your own hours. This sense of drive, independence, and hustle is deeply embedded in whatever the American dream has become. This false sense of control and success is often articulated and displayed on-screen through Uber and Lyft drivers. But I wanted to explore a forgotten and youthful origin.

“I really wanted to capture the false hopes of the gig economy”

While it’s easy to turn down a stranger door-to-door salesmen, a multilevel marketing scheme like this exploits the salesperson’s connections, network, and community. I found this inner-workings and ethics of an operation like this to be intriguing and relevant. I think it’s uniquely American for multilevel marketing schemes to rely on minors to recruit their peers to sell products to their inner circles. But hey, hustle harder and don’t stop when you’re tired, stop when you are done, right?

Sales Ready was shot on Kodak 16mm filmstock with the Arri S3, and a skeleton crew over 3 days. With Ben Mullen as cinematographer. The crew also used some old tricks to get by filming permits to gain access to the LA County Dump. With an old student ID and a slightly bogus letter from an old professor, they got access as a student film.

We avoided static camerawork and strived for a candid sense of realism without the conventions of documentary filmmaking. The rugged cinematography and brute realism of the Dardenne brothers played an essential role in developing the visual strategies of this film.