This is going to be a series of posts that goes in-depth into the business side of films or the financial/money aspects of the film business. A lack of this in-depth knowledge & clear understanding of business/investing principles is what I have seen over and over again as the most common pitfall among filmmakers looking to get $100K+ in film financing.
If you’re new to film financing or the film business or you want to improve on your film business chops, you might want to read this article and the upcoming series of articles on this topic. Make sure to subscribe to the newsletter below so that you don’t miss any of the upcoming articles in the series.
To best illustrate what I wish to convey, I’m going to describe the experiences of a filmmaker named ‘Bob’ – let’s call him ‘Bob the filmmaker’! Bob is a gender-neutral amalgamation of the 100’s of filmmakers & indie producers I’ve met, worked & consulted with and come across in the last 15 years or so. Let me formally introduce Bob to you all.
Bob is in his mid-thirties, a film school graduate and he has made several short films and a feature film or two. Typically at this stage in his life, he is in a quandry – which is how to proceed to the next level in the film business and make films with budgets upwards of $100K+.
I’ve found that Bob has 2 BIG questions that he mulls over again and again:
Bob’s Question 1: How do I make my FIRST $100K film project?
Bob knows that making shorts and features in the low $1000’s isn’t going to cut the mustard or even get the attention of the investors & Venture capitalists (VC) that he is after. But then he does not know what will get their attention either.
My Advice to Bob:
“Business just like the Film Business is about identifying a pain/problem or demand AND then servicing that demand or supplying a solution to that problem. Simples!
Bob needs to quickly come to grips with this and understand that the film business works this way too – in the eyes on a film investor, financier or VC. Bob, my dear filmmaking friend should identify a need or demand among his audience and also ascertain what sort of films investors are looking to invest in.
Once Bob has got this market and investor intelligence with him, he can conceptualise and pitch projects that meet a need or demand. This is how Bob can get his $100K+ indie film project in front of the line each and every time he needs film financing”.
Let’s assume that Bob has taken my advice onboard and gone and gathered all the market & investor intelligence. Well done Bob 🙂
Just by doing this alone, Bob has made himself & his projects stand out from the other 1000’s of film projects vying for film financing love & attention.
So far so good for Bob…but Bob will now run into a MAJOR WALL with investors when he approaches them with renewed vigour and a film project that is market & investor intelligence based.
Investors will now want demonstrable proof that Bob or people in his team have the experience handling big sums of $100K or more…simply put Bob & his film team will have to demonstrate a successful & verifiable financial trackrecord in films. This is where Bob is likely to get STUCK!! & Big Time.
Bob’s Question 2: Why am I being asked to prove a verifiable this track record?
When Bob hits this wall, he’ll start to think that this is unfair to filmmakers and that investors are just messing with him. He doubts if they are even genuinely interested in financing any films.
He feels ridiculed and angry & rightly so….TILL he gets & understands how investors think and the 2 simple INVESTING RULE they all subscribe to:
My Advice to Bob:
“Most professional film investors subscribe to something similar to Warren Buffett’s Only Two Rules For Investing…
Rule No. 1: Never lose money.
Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No.1
Those rules should help Bob make sense as to why most investors ask for a financial track record and why Bob hits the Wall!
No hardcore investor will hand over $100K in film funds unless they are very sure you know what you’re doing with their money. Your track record will tell them if you know what to do based on what you’ve done previously & therefore what you’re going to do/likely to do with their money – so that they don’t lose money (Rule No. 1)
Stay tuned for the next article in the series!