Selling Your Film to Financiers


Everyone is looking for the money they need to make the movie they want to make. You can make a great short film for a few thousand dollars in contrast it is not remotely possible to do it on Hollywood terms. You are always going to need to raise money to make films, so you might as well get used to it now.

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There is a pretty standard template for getting a film made by Hollywood:

First, you write a script that is considered commercially viable and desirable. This basically means that it has room for bankable stars, that it has a long line of similar films that made a profit, and that it can be made for less than it is expected to make.

When presenting it’s a good idea to have a couple of commercially viable scripts to present, just in case you get the old ‘what else are you working on?”. Then with a script(s), you may want to apply for rep at an agency.

Your agent will then create a ‘package’ around your script, which is basically just a wish list of who they think would be a good fit to act in and work on your script. Fundamentally they will create an entire product to sell to a studio.

Considering this, if you find yourself too much of an artist for the process or simply did not land something through this channel you can always go about the financing and producing yourself.

After all, Hollywood isn’t the only way to get a movie made.

One realization I have had when starting to fundraise for a film is the fact that the investors you approach to finance it expect a return on their investment. Well obviously they do and they do expect a multiple on their investment two, three or ten times on their investment. Of course the odds to realize these multiples are low and thus professional investors seek a high return.

It’ not about you; it’s about them:

Investors will look at your film as an opportunity just as they would look at financing a pest control business, so you need to be prepared to sell to financiers with less creativity then you are use to and all about cold facts and reasons, without embellishment, thrust me people a professional investor smells bull$@*t like a hound.

While you can sell some of the glamour of film making and passion for your art to them, overall if you’re raising any sizable amount of money your potential backers need to feel like they are going to at least get their money back.

To do this, you have to follow a pattern that can seem depressingly similar to how you sell to Hollywood. You’ll need to create a presentation and series of documents that explains why your film is a good investment.

You want to explain to your investors how the film industry works, how many and profits work in the film industry, and what the chances are that your film will make money. Use examples of similar films that were either profitable, won awards, or both.

Explain what you’re long term strategy for the film and your career is- whether you’re looking to make your own studio or whether you’re making the film to sell up into the industry.

Ask for money:

Be honest with them, most films do not ultimately make their money back, turn a profit, get sold to a brand-name distributer, or win prestigious awards. They are not there for the sure thing; otherwise they would be investing in to government bonds.

While it’s tempting to lie or rather embellish, especially if these investors have never financed a film before, you have to respect them and resist the urge. Before you get the money they will do their due diligence on you so make sure your pitch makes sense and was honest. There’s nothing to gain from creating an enthusiastic audience that will then turn on you when they learn the truth.

Keep your presentation to 10 slides and your entire pitch well under 20 minutes and at the end do not forget to ask for money. Without closing there is no natural reason for your pitch.

Finally:

When seeking financial backing for your film but your artist sensibility on hold and thing  think like a business owner or entrepreneur. This is an uncomfortable space for many creative types, but it was an essential step taken by anyone who ever made it in this industry.

 

 

 


  • The story “Days of Infamy” is about the bravery of Philippine Army Air Corps Airmen of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) who fought against all odds during the invasion of the Japanese Empire in the Philippine Islands during WW II. In this era, the Philippine Islands was a Commonwealth State of the USA. That in spite of their antiquated aircraft almost obsolete during the start of the Pacific War flew and met a more superior Japanese Air Forces without hesitation to defend the country against her enemy. It is a story of valiant and courageous Filipinos and Americans making a last stand at Bataan and Corregidor hoping that reinforcement will come for it is only a matter of time this sentinel of freedom and democracy west of the Pacific will fall into the hands of the Japanese Empire. Because of their persistence and will to fight, the defenders were able to delay the 50 day timetable of Japanese advances into Australia and other Southeast Asian countries. The exploits and the valor exemplified by these men became a living example of true chivalry that is today distinguished by many generations of fighting men willing to shed the ultimate sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty.

    Reply
    EddieOctober 29, 2011 12:41 am
  • Thanks alot dear for this good lesson. I am soo prepared and happy after reading this.
    I am facing same problems dear on my upcoming film SLAVE PENPAL which i have start working on in Africa Ghana. I need an exe. producer very ugently because this is a global movie which will throw light on the perceptions of most africain that slavery was from the white only. And how important these past occurance oday has been of benef. ‘The importants of the Slave trade’.
    kumi@kumitize.com is my office email and any one who wish to finance this film can call +233-24 4754423.
    Cheers.
    Kumi.

    Reply
    kumiSeptember 23, 2011 11:36 am

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