Film Finance: 5 Tips to Find Out if Your “Rich Guy” is Real

5 Tips to Find Out if Your “Rich Guy” is Real
By filmmaker, author and film finance expert Tom Malloy

Film finance is all about trying to land an HNI (High Net Worth Individual) for your film.  And one of the main obstacles film makers face is qualifying if an investor is “Real.”

In other words, REAL means that he or she CAN actually fund your film.

Real investors are not guys who know other guys.  Real investors are the guys that can actually put in the money.

film finance expert Tom Malloy

Film Finance expert Tom Malloy

Film Finance: 5 Tips to Find Out if Your “Rich Guy” is Real

So if you are looking for film finance, I present to you 5 tips for you to know in your quest to find who’s real and who’s not!

1. Google your prospective investor.  It sounds simple, and it is.  Do your research on the guy.  It’s easy to find out information if you just take the time and search for it.

2. Take into account what he’s wearing and what he’s driving.  Sometimes relying solely on image is a mistake.  In the world of film finance, sometimes the guy with the 3 piece suit is the phony and the guy in shorts and a t-shirt is the eccentric millionaire.  But where does he live?  What does he drive?  Many HNIs enjoy the comforts their money brings.  This method is not foolproof, but it does work 90% of the time.  I had a meeting with a prospective investor and he was missing some teeth.  His teeth were Real, but he wasn’t.

3. Does he pick up the check?  I say it over and over again.  If you are eating dinner/lunch with a potential investor and he/she doesn’t pick up the check, I can 99% guarantee that you will never get a penny out of them.  If they care so little about you that they cannot invest $50 for a meal, you ain’t getting their money.

4. If he starts talking about “money coming in”, he’s not real.  Had this happen many times.  Someone talks about some bank deals or commissions that will be upcoming.  Walk away.  Don’t get your hopes up… it never closes.

5. Is it too easy?  This is an interesting one.  If your film finance efforts seem to be going too easy, a red flag should pop up.  Closing money is not easy.  And if the guy doesn’t really look at your business plan or do his homework, chances are he doesn’t have the money to fund your project and he’s just pretending.

Here’s the key to film finance… You must ALWAYS be in research mode!

I start almost every film finance meeting asking a prospective investor questions about himself or herself.  I’ve also came to that meeting having Googled them and I usually know some info already. Pay attention… don’t be too anxious.  Analyze all the information you’re given and your ratio of closing will increase dramatically!

If you’d like more film finance information so you can find out how I raised over 25 million to make my movies – Check out the film finance guide.

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Tom Malloy is an Actor, Writer and Producer, specializing in independent film finance. He is the author of BANKROLL: A New Approach to Financing Feature Films, which is the best reviewed book on film financing, and is considered a “gold standard” in indie films circles. To date, Tom has raised over $15 million in private equity from independent financiers.


  1. TR says

    This can go the opposite way, too, for the investor sniffing out BS projects. Recently invested with a guy in Morgan Hill, CA, who was driving around in Lamborghini’s that he was renting for the days he needed to impress a potential sucker. He had a big production deal in the works with a Silicon Valley icon funding it with him and several other people he managed to get his picture taken with and put on his website. All the research on the web pointed towards him being legitimate, because he set up the smoke and mirrors that way, before taking our money!

  2. Richard Ort says

    Great article! I also read your book and really think you offer great advice on how to finance a film.

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