How To Build Rapport With Movie Investors (And Other Hollywood Heavy Hitters)

If you want to to raise money to make your movie, you need to first build rapport.  This one lesson alone can accelerate your filmmaking success faster than most anything else you can do. This is especially important when you meet with prospective movie investors and Hollywood heavy hitters.

The reason is simple. People do business with people they like and trust.

(Remember this, always. Seriously.)

My first film was this silly short, shot in 16mm. It was a college project. And it was expensive.

In order to participate in the class, I had to come up with a over one-thousand dollars. That may or may not seem like a lot of money to you. But when I was in college, I didn’t have it.

I was broke!

I saw a job advertisement in the local paper that seemed interesting (this was years before the internet.) Anyway, the job was with this swimming pool and spa company. They needed someone to travel to regional fairs and carnivals to sell hot-tubs.

Yeah. Before I made and distributed movies, I worked at a carnival. Don’t judge me.

Can you picture this? You’re at a local carnival. Probably chomping on french fries and funnel cake. And as you’re walking to find a chocolate milkshake to wash it all down, you stumble into the hot-tub tent.

Picture this:

I’m pitching you a ten-thousand dollar hot tub that you have no desire to buy.

At the time, I wasn’t the best sales guy. In fact, I had no idea what I was doing. I kept pitching and pitching, but the ice cream eating customers were not buying.

Worse, they ignored me cold and often walked away.

My filmmaking dreams faded with each rejection.

But then one day, this old timer sales guy came up to me and said the following:

“You know why you aren’t selling?”
“No,” I said.
“It’s because you ain’t taking time to build rapport.”
“Rapport?”
“Yeah. You need to connect with these people. Make a friend first.”

Rapport is simply a feeling of connection between you and the person (or people) around you. To build rapport, you simply need to ask some questions, shut your mouth and listen. Once I understood this, I took time and got to know each prospect BEFORE I went into the pitch.

In the weeks to follow, an interesting thing happened. I found out that a lot people were just visiting to fair so they could eat ice cream. They had no desire to buy a hot-tub. So I did not waste time pitching my offer. Taking time to build rapport also allowed me to find people who were actually interested.

By the end of the summer, I was the top hot-tub sales guy on the team.

This allowed me to produce my first short movie, and I also had extra money left over.

But Jason – What does this have to do with filmmaking?

Years later I realized taking time to build rapport while selling hot-tubs is the exact strategy you will use to build rapport with movie investors and Hollywood Heavy Hitters. It’s amazing how small jobs can teach you BIG lessons!

Here is a quick filmmaking video.

BUILD RAPPORT

I’ve said it time and time again. If you cannot connect with people, garnering any measure of success in the movie industry will be difficult. The good news is, with a few strategies and techniques, you can begin to build meaningful and profitable relationships with people at an accelerated rate.

Establishing rapport is the first step to creating a Hollywood relationship.

FILMMAKING ACTION STEPS

  1. Read the trade journals, national newspapers and watch the news whenever you can. This will keep you informed of current events, including sports, finance and especially entertainment. (So you can find stuff to talk about.)
  2. When you’re informed, finding conversational topics between strangers will come easier – This is a skill you’ll need when you got out and pitch to prospective investors or Hollywood heavyweights for the first time. I know I just mentioned it – but in Hollywood, there are two trade journals. Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. Read them!
  3. This one should be obvious, but watch every movie you can. (Seriously.)
  4. Read the following books: How to Win Friends & Influence People and Never Eat Alone (These are general business books, but useful to your filmmaking.)
  5. Since communication is mostly body language, one effective technique to building rapport involves mirroring and moving your body in sync with the person you’re talking with. (Just don’t be obvious about this.)

As you meet more people, you’ll begin to expand your context of reality. People will provide you with ideas, help and often introduce you to other people. Add this up over time and you’ll soon see how each person you meet potentially creates a positive ripple effect that will propel you in the direction of your Hollywood goals!

RESOURCES
If you are looking for tips and strategies for getting movie money, check out The Film Finance Guide. It was authored by myself and Tom Malloy. Keep in mind the Tom Malloy has raise over 25M in film funding to produce his firs feature film. Head over the Film Finance Guide here.