Today’s filmmaking question comes from a frustrated screenwriter who needs to find people interested in investing in movies. Since this is a challenge faced by most filmmakers and screenwriters, I thought it would be good to provide some tips.
Question: I have lots of bound ready scripts. I have a great desire and experience to make good meaningful movies, but I am unable to find people to fund my ideas. I have big and as small as $50,000. projects. But I haven’t met a single person who is willing to invest even such small amounts. Can you help me solve this problem?
Investing in movies is an incredibly risky venture. Anybody who knows business also knows that bringing an unproven concept to market in any industry is an expensive way to make a profit. Since your movie has never been produced, and your track record as a writer and producer is limited – it makes sense that you are finding the process challenging.
Expand Your Network
In my film finance guide, I talk a lot about how to build relationships with wealthy and successful people. One of the tips I share is this – It will serve you well to live by the phrase: “Your network is your net worth.” A lot of would-be filmmakers ignore this fact. But you really are a reflection of the people you spend the most time with. If your network does not consist of any wealthy and successful people, you must change this immediately.
How To Find Rich People
A lot of filmmakers make the mistake of moving the Hollywood (or attending AFM) so that they can find financing for their independent movies. But the real secret is, the money is outside of Hollywood.To find people interested in investing in movies, you must be willing to pick up the telephone and cold call business professionals. Look around your hometown and find the most successful business. Find out who owns that business and then call their office requesting a meeting.
Build Your Team
Even if you are fortunate enough to build a network of people interested in investing in movies, you will still have to make sure your business makes sense. You will need a very comprehensive business plan, production schedule and budget. And if this is your first feature film, you will need to hire seasoned production professionals. My suggestion is to make friends with a production manager and a first assistant director. These professionals will guide you on how to take a concept into production.
Small Budgets May Not Be Good
Producing a micro-budget movie is a very good way to join the feature filmmaker club. But presenting a micro-budget project to someone interested in investing in movies may appear amateurish. Most seasoned business pros are looking for a possible return greater than interest earned in a mutual fund. And while a smaller budget seems like it would be an easier investment, it may represent a higher risk… Without money to hire the appropriate talent or pay for marketing, you may be presenting an easy way for someone to blow 50K!
Define Your Distribution Strategy
Whenever I speak at film festivals, I emphasize audience building. In short, your audience is your business. You are responsible for sourcing your own audience. And without an audience you have no business. The reason you are responsible for your audience is because distribution has changed dramatically. While there is still room for theatrical and DVD distribution, the world is becoming increasingly video on demand based.
While most filmmakers focus on raising money through crowdfunding, the more interesting aspects of crowdfunding include testing your concept and growing your audience list before you dive in both feet first. If you attempt a crowdfunding campaign and it fails, then you know that either your concept, your marketing or your project does not engage your audience. It is far better to know this prior to producing a movie nobody wants to watch. Assuming you have a successful crowdfunding campaign, then this will give you even more leverage when you seek traditional investment.
Investing In Movies
At the end of the day, nobody is going to care about your project more than you. Getting a movie made, seen and sold is going to require intelligence, ambition and tenacity. You will have to step out of your comfort zone, break big goals into smaller, more manageable tasks – and you will have to take action.
Ask yourself this question: “Given the resources that I have today, what is the movie that I can make this year?”