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A disenchanted young woman ascribes to the get-rich-quick advice of self-help guru - only to learn the cost of getting exactly what you want.

Ilya Polyakov

Writer and Director 

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Ilya Polyakov was born in Ukrainian and raised in California. Though Ilya always enjoyed playing with the family camcorder, it wasn't until high school that he discovered the power of editing and started to shoot and edit skateboard videos with his friends. After graduating in 2009 Ilya moved to LA and began his career as Director by working in countless shorts, commercials, music videos and comedy sketches. 


How to get $100M

​Miserable and broke, Hope (Jessica Marie Garcia) drives for Uber to make a living. One night, while watching TV after a late shift, she comes across a charismatic self-help speaker (Aaron Groben) who seems to address her directly. Hope attends the self-help guru's seminar and pretty soon finds herself replaying his simple 3-step plan on an old tape recorder. First, she writes down a particular goal for herself 'I will have $100 Million'. Then she begins to repeat those words throughout the day, every day. Finally, she cleans up her act, clears out her crowded apartment, trashes her cigarettes and starts to exercise. Pretty soon, Hope looks and feels like a new woman while repeats her mantra over and over again- 'I will have $100 Million'.

'How to Get $100 Million' was an idea Ilya was not thinking about making a film about at all. Instead, he was thinking about self-betterment. It was a moment in which he was trying to deal with his depression head-on and came across this one book 'Norman Peale's: The Power of Positive Thinking', which suggests writing down a particular goal and then essentially manifesting it into reality. Ilya tried it out and did precisely what Norman Peale suggests in the book. As he says "I figured hey, what the hell, can't hurt! So I opened up my notebook and wrote down "I will have $1 million". I looked at the words on the page and thought "well that's lame. You can have ANYTHING you want and you write down $1 million?" So I scratched it out and wrote down "I will have $10 million." I looked at it once more and cursed myself. What a loser. I scratched it out once more and wrote down "I will have $100 million." I looked at my handiwork proudly. "That's more like it!" Then I went into the other room and told my wife, "hey babe, I decided I'm going to have $100 million. By my 35th birthday." I'll spare you our subsequent conversation but suffice it to say she thought I was an idiot. So I took the dog out for a walk to let off steam, and that's when it clicked. Way better than some half-baked dream: a STORY idea!! I rushed home and jotted it down, and that was how How to Get $100 Million was born!

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Genre: Drama, Dark Comedy, Thriller
Country of filming: USA
Aspect ratio: 2:35
Shotting format: Digital
Budget: $50,000 
Run time: 9:23

While the film is partially a satire about naive hope and false idols, Ilya believes that the principle behind it is fundamentally correct: the potential to achieve anything we truly set our minds to. The process of independent filmmaking is truly an embodiment of that idea as he says "It is only through sheer willpower and a stubborn belief that any project ever sees the light of day. The artist must push that proverbial stone uphill, and as they push it, the entire universe pushes back. But eventually, if those obstacles do not break the artist's spirit, the artist brings their dream to fruition. That is a powerful notion, and I carry it with me each time I have that foolish yet irresistible calling: to get back out there and make another film."

This particular production is a great example of that process. When asked about it, we were not surprised by his answer- "Let's be honest, there is no such thing as having an "easy" time making a film. Everything is conspiring against you to bring something into existence, as though it is a test of your will. Do you believe enough in the project to withstand each test and carry on? I would say the most memorable set of challenges came as a result of the car, which was a crappy old Honda Civic purchased so we could crash it in the film. On our first day shooting with it, the actress started complaining about the brakes not feeling right. In the middle of a take -at 2 in the morning- smoke started coming out of the hood. We cut the night short and had the car towed. Everything ended up working out, but I have quite a few stories involving that car, which I do believe was cursed. "

Here's another one involving the car, as Ilya told us "we went back to do reshoots months after the original production (this was in June, fully in the middle of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests). We're shooting a scene at a carwash at 3:30 in the morning when all of a sudden, a cop car pulls into the parking lot. My crew scatters so as not to get our gear confiscated, but all the cops seemed to care about was the car, which they walked around examining curiously. They asked if the car was registered, and I said "no." Do you have insurance? "No." Do those license plates belong to that car? "...No." Long story short, I explained to them why I had the car, and they explained to me that what I was doing was a felony. However, being a white man, they let me off the hook, but I could definitely have been arrested that night. I sold that piece of sh*t the next day and donated half the money to Black Lives Matter".


Character - Self-help-Guru

Aaron Groben

Aaron Groben was born on April 5, 1990 in the USA. He is an actor and writer, known for Heaven (2020), Into the Dark (2018) and Art of the Dead (2019).