How To Make It In Hollywood

If you want to know how to make it Hollywood, you’re obviously not alone. It is easy to dream about becoming the next Hollywood hotshot. You get to town and everybody around you is doing amazing things. Typical conversations revolve around careers in entertainment:

“What do you do?”

“I’m a director.”

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I met these people a lot. We went to fancy cocktail parties, all of us wondering how to make it in Hollywood, posing as if we already had awesome careers. I naturally assumed that, like me, my creative colleagues went home and worked all night on their projects.

But as I am sure you can imagine, that wasn’t the case.

How_To_Make_It_In_Hollywood

Photo © tsuneomp / Dollar Photo Club

How To Make It In Hollywood

In the years since, I now realize Hollywood has a way of filtering out people who are not serious about the work. As I started getting more and more legitimate entertainment gigs, many of my dream-filled friends stopped dreaming and left Hollywood.

The reason for this is simple. I think many hopefuls discover a secret few are willing to share about Hollywood success. The idea you can somehow “make it in Hollywood” is totally flawed. It leads many hopefuls to believe that all you gotta do is win some sort of career lottery and you’re set for life.

This is not true. Your Hollywood success will be defined by your ability to churn out multiple projects over the course of your career. Heck, even my most successful friends still have to hustle.

The only way you can truly make it in Hollywood is by doing the work!

And then doing it again and again.

And this is good news. Thanks to technology like YouTube and inexpensive camera gear, there has never been a easier time to make, market and share your work with the world. You don’t have to ask for permission. In fact, you should NEVER ask for permission to be successful.

In terms of a real world example, you will have a hard time finding someone that works harder than indie film producer Tom Malloy. If you don’t know Tom, he is an actor and a filmmaker. But what makes him unique is his never ending hustle.

When he couldn’t get acting gigs, Tom Malloy simply decided to produce his own movies and then cast himself among other, more well known actors. His efforts paid off. To date he is responsible for raising over 25 million dollars to produce his movie projects!

Obviously I wanted to find out how to do what he does. So that’s why I was relentless in getting Tom to help me create the Film Finance Guide. And in the guide we actually role play what it is like to cold call and get a meeting with a prospective movie investor.

But my point is simple. If you want to find out how to make it in Hollywood, you really only have to follow three distinct laws.

  1. Create solid Hollywood relationships.
  2. Maintain a reputation for being trustworthy and reliable.
  3. Hone your ability for picking up the phone and cold calling.

Since Tom and I launched the Film Fiance Guide, many filmmakers have participated in the program. The positive feedback has been overwhelming. However, every so often I receive emails from Hollywood Hopefuls asking if Tom would simply provide them with his list of investors.

One woman in-particular asked me to find her an investor, and then pitch her movie idea for her.

I don’t need to tell you why this the the wrong approach. This woman is a Hollywood dreamer. She’s asking other people to do the work for her. And this is why Hollywood dreamers fail fast.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Getting a project off the ground is challenging. Maintaining Hollywood success is even more challenging. You face a lot of rejection. And nobody is going to do it for you.

Sooner or later, YOU will have to decide if doing the work is worth it for you. And doing the work is the real secret on how to make it in Hollywood!

How To Find People Who Invest In Movies

If you want to find people who invest in movies, look for giant billboards in your home town.

That probably sounds simple. But it works.

I grew up in a small farming community in Pennsylvania. Nobody around me made movies. Starting out, I didn’t know how to find people who invest in movies. In fact, most people in my town worked at factories. We didn’t know rich people.

But like you, I had an odd ambition.

people who invest in movies

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How To Find People Who Invest In Movies

My friends and family thought I was crazy. My mom won’t admit it now, but there was a time she actually thought I would grow up, take a job at the local factory and have a few kids. But I wanted something… Different.

I wanted to make movies. And for that to happen, I wanted to find people who invest in movies (or at least people who could potentially invest in movies.) But I had no idea where to start.

Around this time, I started reading a bunch of books on business and how to become successful. One book in particular was called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It is totally unrelated to filmmaking, but reading it changed my life.

Prior to reading the book, I viewed rich people like kings in a kingdom. Like they had something I did not. But the book gave me a context for how rich people actually live and think.

This was important. I realized most rich people started from humble beginnings. I also realized that one way the rich get rich is by creating and growing successful companies. And I also realized that successful business owners are bombarded by business pitches all day long.

Your movie is a business. Why not pitch it to the very people who invest in movies?

This led me on a quest to find successful companies.

Look For The Biggest Billboards

You probably thought I was kidding.

If you want to find people who invest in movies, look no further than the biggest billboards in your hometown. In my town, there is a very popular, massive car dealership. I know this because you see billboards for it everywhere!

So one day I called the dealership and asked for the owner. And to my surprise, this guy called me back and agreed to meet. During our conversation, he told me how he started out as a tire salesman. Eventually he garnered more and more success and eventually grew his net worth just over 60M dollars.

Can you imagine that? 60M dollars?

I know this profoundly simple tactic seems silly. But wealth is everywhere. The film finance expert Tom Malloy talks about this a lot in the film finance guide. But as soon as you start believing in prosperity, you start finding new opportunities.

Understand The Language of Business

Before you pick up the phone, there is something you need to do.

If you’re like most filmmakers, you could probably talk about cameras, audio, lighting and gear all day. Heck, you might even know a think or two about how to break down a screenplay or direct actors. But when you are looking to find people who invest in movies, you need to speak the language of business.

Understand these terms for starters: Cashflow, capital gains and ROI.

This is because most people who invest in movies come from other industries. And knowing how to talk in the language of traditional business will go a long way towards helping you communicate your proposition.

Always remember that goal of the indie filmmaker and traditional business professional are the same – You are joining forces to produce, market, sell and distribute a product. The problem is, when it comes to creating a movie, most filmmakers focus only on the production.

But that is limiting. Never approach people who invest in movies, until you are ready to answer the tough questions. Aside from creating an awesome product, how are you going to market, sell and distribute your movie? And why the heck should anybody take you seriously?

If you would like to find out how to meet investors and raise money, check out the film finance guide.

The Minimalist Guide To Making A Movie

The toughest part of making a movie is getting started.

Many would-be filmmakers sit around all year waiting for everything to be perfect. Not you. The sooner you realize your movie will never be perfect the better. This frees you up to get started on an idea (any idea) and start making a movie.

As a filmmaker, taking action is better than sitting around and talking. Taking action is always better than making excuses for why you can’t make your movie. But I want to caution you. When it comes to making a movie, there is a lot of crappy information out there.

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Most of the other information tells you that making a movie is impossible without foreign pre-sales, star power or getting a major deal with a movie studio. But there are other ways. . .

Taking action involves looking around, making a tally of the resources that you have right now and deciding to pick up a camera.

Depending where you are in your career, getting started may seem like an insurmountable obstacle. If this describes your situation, you’re in luck. When I first started, I was stuck in my small town and I did not know anyone in the film industry. So I took any job I could. My first gig was mopping floors at a local production company.

Making a movie is going to be challenging and rewarding. Are you ready to get started?

making a movie

The Minimalist Guide To Making A Movie

Picture this! By some miracle to end all miracles, born of equal parts luck and blind determination, you’ve gone against the odds.

You’ve put together a cast and crew, refined your script, found some financing and in the process, you’ve somehow managed to make the impossible possible. You made a movie!

Can you imagine the excitement, emotion and applause of a packed audience during the premiere your first movie? Can you imagine yourself walking down the isle to claim your award? Can you imagine yourself in the Q&A session? Can you smell the popcorn?

Then my question is, what are you waiting for?

My name is Jason Brubaker. I live and work in Los Angeles. I have worked in the movie industry for over a decade. And if YOU want to start making a movie, then I encourage you to read every word below!

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Affiliate Disclosure: This page contains recommendations for products and services related to making a movie. If you decide these are a good fit for your moviemaking business, I may receive compensation. This will not affect your purchase price. And if referrals aren’t cool, ignore ALL links.
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Step 1 (Making a Movie) – Screenwriting

Your screenplay is the blueprint for your movie.

Without an awesome screenplay, making a movie is very difficult. I know some filmmakers are interested in making an “experimental” movie without a script. But I don’t suggest you do that.

If you would like to write a screenplay, here are some professional tools that I recommend.

For screenwriting, Final Draft software is the industry standard. Additionally, you can also use Movie Magic Screenwriter. But I never used it. And if money is tight, there is FREE screenwriting software called Celtix.

Once you have the tools, it is important to remember that nothing happens until YOU take the time to write. Set aside time to write at least one page each day. And give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft.

If you need extra help, research the writing course at: WriteScreenplayNow.com – In this system, you receive writing tips, an action guide and a fill in the blank writing workbook, so you can finish your screenplay this year.

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Screenwriting Tips

1. Explain your story in one sentence. What’s your hook?

2. Everything in your screenplay costs money. Consider the movie’s budget.

3. Ice, Snow, Rain, Sun, dogs, lighting bolts and children are worth avoiding.

4. If you decide to produce your movie, hire a seasoned Production Manager.

5. Hire a GREAT First Assistant Director. Not some film school kid either.
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Step 2 (Making a Movie) – Script Breakdown

Break down your script and schedule your movie.

After you finish your screenplay, the next steps is to break it down. A script breakdown allows you to schedule and budget your movie. To complete this process, you take everything in your script (wardrobe, stunts, locations, characters, props, et al.) And you put these elements into a schedule.

Because this is your “initial breakdown,” you will use this information to estimate your budget.

If this is script breakdown process is new to you, I recommend you take a look at Peter Marshall’s Script Breakdown and Film Scheduling Course. His course shows you the fundamentals of a breakdown. For more information, visit: MovieScriptBreakDown.com

Once you understand the fundamentals of script breakdown and film scheduling, you might want to sign up for a FREE account at LightSpeed EPS. In addition to helping you break down your screenplay, this software helps you manage your productions. For more information, visit: IndieProductionTool.com

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Three Types of Filmmakers

1. Employee Filmmaker (indie producer works at a production company): An employee filmmaker is someone who gets a job at a production company.

2. Freelance Filmmaker (indie producers hired on a per-project basis): As a freelancer, you get hired
on a per-project basis. Then when the production wraps, you go back to seeking your next job.

3. Entrepreneurial Filmmaker (indie producer creates his or her own projects and hires other people): In this scenario, your goal is to find a good screenplay, raise money and make your own movie!
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Step 3 (Making a Movie) – Get Movie Money

The secret to successful indie filmmaking.

Like most filmmakers, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I would find an investor for my projects. One of my friends said I should contact a local auto dealer who owned a dozen dealerships.

One day I picked up the telephone and called his dealership. To my surprise, he agreed to meet.  So we sat down and discussed making a movie. That was the beginning of a business relationship. For the record, this small town auto dealer is worth sixty-seven million dollars!

Since then, I have met countless rich people. These people get calls from entrepreneurs seeking funding every week. And while establishing a relationship is essential, it is important to have a business plan.

A business plan outlines how your movie will be produced, marketed and sold. It outlines how much money will you need and how the money will be spent. Your business plan will outline how much risk your investors will need to take in order to gain the possible rewards.

To create a business plan, you may benefit from some free online templates. Or you may benefit from
MoviePlanPro.com – There you will find a movie business plan kit, which provides you with a step-by-step approach.

As a word of caution, always contact a lawyer before you pitch your project to anybody. Your lawyer will have suggestions on how to legally approach prospective movie investors.

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Contacting Investor Skills

1. Very few investors are out there waiting to throw money at unproven filmmakers. Remove risks.

2. What is an asset? A liability? Cashflow? Capital gains? Figure this out first.

3. Write a business plan. Contact an attorney. Finalize you paperwork.

4. Find the biggest business in your town. Call the owner and request a meeting.

5. It takes seven meetings before you build a relationship. Don’t give up.
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Step 4 (Making a Movie) – Legal Stuff

Protect yourself from your filmmaking business.

When it comes to making a movie, the moment you start putting your project together, you’re in business. At this point that many filmmakers get a business card and set up a website, touting the wonders of their projects.

This is also a time when many costly mistakes are made.

How you establish your filmmaking business can have legal and tax ramifications. As such, the moment you decide to start putting a project together, you should also seek out the legal and tax advice of qualified professionals. After meeting with these folks, you might find that operating your production company under the protection of a corporate entity (such as a corporation or LLC) may provide you with basic safeguards.

The steps of setting up a business entity are pretty simple, but they could be a little costly depending on your state (or country) laws and tax liabilities. Also, as a general disclaimer, I am not qualified to offer legal or tax advice. So I can only talk about my own experience – which may not be right for you.

When it comes to entertainment attorneys, you might consider researching Gordon Firemark. He runs Firemark.com and has very informative podcasts, full of valuable legal tips for independent filmmakers.

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Protect Your Movie Business

1. Talk with an attorney about how to protect your assets in the event things go south. Do this before you do anything else!

2. As a second line of defense, talk with a qualified insurance broker about your goals. Common insurance packages include production insurance, liability insurance, workers compensation insurance and Errors and Omissions.

3. Make sure you get releases singed by everybody. This includes the obvious stuff like your cast and your crew and the less obvious stuff like locations.
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Step 6 (Making a Movie) – CrowdFunding

Tap into your social networks and presell your movie.

Raising movie money becomes much easier when you have a network of rich and successful friends. If you have not already done so, check out GetMovieMoney.com – different from all the other BS out there, you will discover some little-known strategies on how to find and make friends with rich people.

When it comes to making a movie, sometimes knowing rich people is not enough. Many prospective investors will want to see some proof of concept. This is where crowdfunding can be helpful. Aside from raising money, the more important aspects of crowdfunding include testing, proving and pre-selling a concept.

Additionally, a crowdfunding campaign allows you to test the footprint of your social influence.

When crowdfunding attempts fail, it could mean the concept is not interesting to the marketplace, or your social media reach is limited or a bit of both. It is better to correct these hiccups prior to production.

To get started with a crowdfunding campaign, visit my friends at Indiegogo. This platform allows you to set up a profile, promote your movie project, set a financial goal and find supporters who will sponsor various aspects
of your movie. IndieGoGo.com

You must never forget that you are creating a product. So before you approach any prospective investor, you need to first figure out how your project will make money

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Three CrowdFunding Tips

1. Study the pitch videos of successful campaigns and test a pitch video for your project.

2. Always include a one dollar perk. While transactionally small, you may benefit from the social reach of your contributor. Some of their friends may decide to fund you.

3. Update your funders frequently. Many initial funders will actually contribute a second time when they see your project is gaining progress
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Step 7 (Making a Movie) – Final Budget

Lock your script and create your final budget.

Finalize your script. Get it to a point where you aren’t going to keep changing things. Once you get to this point, consider it a locked script. Number your scenes. Then break down your script again, and create your final shooting (production) schedule and budget.

You probably know how much money you have to work with. If you find you don’t have enough you have two choices. You can get more money. Or you can modify the script and schedule to fit your budget.

A big rule for making a movie is everything will cost you money. Sometimes these elements are negotiable. For example, I know a guy who got both food and locations for free in exchange for product placement.

If you have the money, I suggest working with a seasoned physical producer, line producer or production manager to help you get organized.

These professionals work to make sure your movie stays on budget. They then tweak your initial schedule as needed to stay within both your desired budget and time parameters.

Additionally, if you’re going to direct and produce, having these professionals on your team will open the door to relationships with a great 1st AD. The First Assistant Director keeps your movie on schedule

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The Final Budget

1. Everything in your movie costs money. Always negotiate for a better offer.

2. The Line Producer and 1st Assistant Director should be your first hires. They will help you with the day to day minutiae so you can focus on getting your movie made.

3. If your budget is greater than your money – you have two choices. You can lower your budget or modify your script and schedule
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Step 8 (Making a Movie) – Prepping For Production

The quality of your production depends on your preparation.

When you get the money, pick a date for production. You are now entering the phase of pre-production. The most important aspect of making a movie involves preparation. In fact, the quality of your production depends on quality of your prep.

I emphasize the planning aspects of pre-production, because many filmmakers crash and burn during production because they didn’t have a solid plan.

Go back to your lawyer and get help with your contracts and releases. If you’re short on cash, do a web search for lawyers for the arts in your state. Since many of these folks will be working for free, expect a lot of “no’s” before you find the right fit for your show. You can make your jobs easier if you find someone with film production experience.

If you are using a Line Producer and 1st AD, both of these professionals will help you hire the cast and crew. They may also know a thing or two about tax credits in your state. Tax credits can be used to help further incentivize prospective investors to hand over money. This is invaluable!

To make sure your production goals are executed in such a way that you get the most movie for your hard earned money, you will need to check and re-check with your department heads to make sure everything is AOK. Assuming you have a plan A, plan B and a plan C, you’re ready to shoot your movie!

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Prep For Production

1. Take time to visualize each day in advance. Picture every camera set up and every shot. This will help you outline an efficient day.

2. Make sure you get plenty of sleep. This sounds silly. But making a movie is tough work! You will need every ounce of energy you can muster to make your movie happen!

3. Remember that you are making a movie because doing so is fun. Your goal is to enjoy every minute on set, as you’re doing what you want in life
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Step 9 (Making a Movie) – Movie Website

Your movie website is essential for filmmaking success

Create a website specific to your movie. Then make sure you have a way to get site visitors onto your mailing list. Additionally, have a place on your site for press, so that they can grab your press kit and materials.

To get started, you will need a domain name and website hosting. To do this, set up an account with a filmmaker friendly company. More ideas for movie hosing and domain selection can be found BlueHost.com, which is the company I utilize for all my movie websites. (Choose the most inexpensive option.)

When you set up the site, make sure you use your movie’s title in your link. For example, in our environmental movie, we reserved: ToxicSoupMovie.com

Once you have your website hosting, hire a web designer to create a website for you. If you already spent all your money making the movie, then check out a service called fiverr.com – On this site, you’ll probably find a dozen people who will create an awesome website for a whopping $5 dollars!

As you get into production, you will later want to add a movie trailer. This will help drive traffic to your website, which will increase the size of your mailing list. To build your mailing list, check out AudienceList.com – This service allows filmmakers to capture leads from their movie website, build a mailing list and set up email newsletters. (They pay me to promote, but I use them for everything.)

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Website Tips You Need

1. Keep it simple. Your website should tell a visitor where they are and what to do next!

2. Your movie website should provide a trailer that fans can watch.

3. Stream your trailer from YouTube. Aside from being the second largest search engine on earth, the service is free and has a social networking component built in.
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Step 10 (Making a Movie) – Get it Made

Begin your production.

Once you have all the above stuff checked off the list, you’ll want to meet with your department heads and make sure everyone’s needs are being met. Assuming you’ve maintained limited locations, with a limited cast and crew, you will probably still be baffled by the amount of questions that come flying at you.

Seriously, you would think you’re making a gazillion dollar movie. But questions are simply indicators that people care about their work and the movie. And they want to make it a success. Trust your team and be rewarded.

This goes without saying, but don’t be a jerk.

Seriously, you’re making a movie. It’s a real accomplishment and it’s one of those great things you can do in life. In fact, it’s quite awesome. So push forward. ENJOY! Did I mention you need plenty of sleep?

During production, try to constantly get press to come out and profile your movie in the news. The goal is to leverage the media, create buzz and hopefully get people to your website and get them to opt into your
newsletter mailing list.

After the WRAP, have a wrap party. And trust me when I tell you this – try not to sleep with anybody in your cast or your crew. Also, if possible, monitor your alcohol intake. You are a professional. Act accordingly.

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Last Minute Filmmaking Tips

1. Walk before you can run. If the only movie you can make this year is a three minute movie for YouTube, grab your cheap camera and make that.

2. Make sure you have adequate food on set. If you do not have much money, food is your currency. Don’t skimp for the cheap stuff either. Get good stuff.

3. If you have to cry on set, just make sure you go somewhere nobody can see you. When you cry on set, everybody looks at you like a weirdo and you erode credibility with your cast and your crew
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Step 11 (Making a Movie) – Post Production

The edit suite is your final rewrite.

After you recover from your hangover, you’ll probably start editing the movie. This is the phase in making a movie called post production. And it really is the final rewrite of your movie.

In the past, all the talk and buzz in the world revolved around Avid. Now you’re like Avid who? Then it was Final Cut Pro. And now some people are saying you should utilize Adobe Premiere. If you have a Mac, get yourself a copy of one of this. It’s powerful and affordable. Enough said.

If you don’t have a Mac, find a friend who does. And if you don’t know how to edit, you should find a friend for that too.

Your first edit will be rough. Screen it with a group of people who have never seen the movie. Get feedback. Then take the feedback and refine your edit. After that, take a week off. During your downtime, do not look at the movie or play around with it.

In this way, you’ll come back to the edit suite with new perspective. Refine and refine again.

Have another small screening with people who have never seen the movie. Take notes. Then take those notes back to your edit suite. Add some sound FX to your movie. Clean up actor dialogue and rough areas. Remember, audio is often more important than visual.

Screen the movie again with a new, small set of people. Take notes. Go back and refine. You will probably repeat this process many times until the final cut of your movie meets your standards. Just remember, less is more.

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Edit Your Movie

1. Don’t be an idiot. You will need to cut at least five minutes out of your movie, if not more. Many directors keep the long scenes. That is a snooze fest.

2. You’re in a dark room for hours on end. Please make sure you shower and maintain your hygiene. I don’t know why, but edit suites smell funky.

3. Quit asking people on your payroll for an opinion. Many want you to hire them again, so they will be inclined
to sugarcoat their opinions. Get opinions from people who aren’t involved in your movie.
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Step 12 (Making a Movie) – Sell Your Movie

You are now responsible for the success of your movie.

When you have a cut you’re happy with, then you can implement your sales strategy. For example, will you go to film festivals? Sales agents? Film Markets?

Because finding traditional distribution deals are rare, you must always plan your own marketing, sales and distribution strategy. To get started, you will need to create a trailer, refine your website, set up a Facebook page, YouTube channel, and a newsletter will allow you to build a relationship with your visitors.

Refine your trailer so that it helps you sell your movie, without giving the entire story away. Make sure your trailer includes a backlink to your website. Once you complete the trailer, upload it to YouTube and all the other video streaming sites you can think of.

Most filmmakers make a website with all sorts of bells and whistles. Your website should be simple. You should have a trailer, an “about” page, a “buy now” button, links to your social networks and your opt-in audience list.

Out of everything I mention, when I say “build an audience,” what I’m really saying is GROW YOUR EMAIL LIST. The money is in your list. Getting people onto your list is most important.

You may want to research my guide at: HowToSellYourMovie.com

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How To Sell Your Movie

1. Remember video stores? Neither does my kid cousin. Video On Demand is the future. Get it?

2. If most sales agents are attempting to “pick up” your movie for iTunes, and you can get your own movie onto iTunes, why do you still need the validation of a middle-man?

3. If you want more information on how to market and sell your movie, check out: HowToSellYourMovie.com

4. Did you create your movie website yet? What are you waiting for?

5. Just because your movie is in iTunes, Amazon and VOD marketplaces does not guarantee sales. You still need to market to sell your movie.
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How To Make People Line Up And Beg To Invest In Movies

Do You Invest In Movies? That is the question. And here’s the thing…

People who invest in movies aren’t necessary eager to hear unsolicited pitches from uninformed, inexperienced filmmakers.  The reason for this should be obvious.

But just in case you need some clarification, investing is a business. People who invest in anything do so because they think the reward will far outweigh the risks.

In other words, these people invest because your offering is more appealing than say, buying a stock mutual fund that grows on average 12% per year.

Invest In Movies

Do You Invest In Movies?

Finding people who actually invest in movies requires that you think about your project from the point of view of the investor. What’s in if for them? Why should they invest in movies over other investment opportunities?

But Jason – No more of this business talk. I just want to find investors the easy way!

That’s your problem.

And I get it.

It is far easier to search the internet for people who invest in movies than to actually scour your network for people who may be able to offer you a personal introduction. A personal introduction that could lead to a face-to-face meeting, that could lead to the money.

If you’re serious about finding people who invest in movies, you must realize that business largely depends on trust. And trust is a result of personal relationships. And you usually don’t build strong personal relationships without occasionally picking up the phone.

As an example of what not to do, sometimes I get some wacky emails from people asking me to invest in movies.

Dear Jason,

This is my third and final eMail to you. I think it’s silly that you have a filmmaking website, but when it comes time to actually help people make movies, you just ignore them… So here it goes – again!

My name is [removed] from [another planet]. I think you should invest in movies I want to make because my ideas are totally awesome. My friends and I are going to do everything – so all we need from you is the money…

I am thinking our budget is going to be eighty-thousand dollars, but I am really not sure. But we think you should help us because you know all that stuff about film distribution. ( We don’t care much about that stuff, ha-ha!)

Assuming that you do invest in movies (you don’t want to miss out, right?) – We are prepared to give you all international rights. So again, just 80K will make you as a producer. Sound good?

You can send the check to my return address.

Sincerely,

Mr. [Name Removed]

P.S. If you pass at this opportunity, it’s your loss. But if you find other film financier for our project, we will still give you an associate producer credit.

P.P.S. What is your personal phone number? I’d like to call you with more details.

This note was modified and slightly embellished to protect this unprofessional “filmmaker.”

Much of this probably seems funny. But these types of unprofessional solicitations are not rare. I get at least three emails like this per week.

FilmFinanceGuideSidebar330

And here’s the thing, if you’re looking for people who invest in movies – it starts with your network. It starts with a business plan and a clear plan for making your movie make sense to people who invest in movies.

If you’d like more information on how to find and build relationships with investors, check out the film finance guide.

 

How To Access The Secret Film Investing Club

In this week’s filmmaking question, a reader asks the following about investing in a webseries.

Question: I’m doing a webseries and I am distributing to YouTube and iTunes so far. I’m not launching till at least Feb when everything is done. I am doing this out of pocket and need funding. I don’t have wealthy friends nor do I know any rich people. What’s the first step in obtaining an investor? Is there a group of people that invest? I’ve tried those crowdfunding sites to no avail. Any suggestions?

One of the most frequently asked questions in filmmaking is: How do I find someone to invest in my project?

While the answers vary from asking your dentist for money to calling your rich uncle, I am going to tell you a secret that most filmmakers don’t want you to know. Are you ready?

Angry businesswoman

Secret Film Investing Club

There is a top secret, underground group of prospective film investors who are hungry to invest in unproven projects, produced by unknown filmmakers and they are chomping at the bit to give you their money. That’s right. I’m taking about the secret film investing club…

But before you can be admitted to the club, you must first decipher the secret password.

Just kidding… There really is no such secret film investing club.

But there is a myth perpetuated in this industry that leads most filmmakers to believe otherwise. This is evidenced each year by the gazillion, first time, hopeful filmmakers who flock to The American Film Market and end up hobnobbing with Hollywood posers who pretend that they are actually interested in financing unproven projects.

While some filmmakers get lucky, many leave AFM with a list of “good contacts” and “great feedback” on their project and spend the next two years chasing a carrot on a string. So instead of taking this route, I suggest learning how to think like an investor.

What’s the first step in obtaining an investor?

When I started out, I didn’t know any rich or successful people. I grew up in a small town surrounded by factory workers. Like most filmmakers, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I would find an investor for my projects. At one point I read a book totally unrelated to filmmaking called Rich Dad Poor Dad. The book talked about rich people – how they think and what they look for in investments.

Inspired by the book, I started asking friends if they knew any rich people. One of my friends mentioned a local auto dealer who owned a dozen dealerships. One day I picked up the telephone and called his dealership. I left a message with his secretary. And to my surprise, the prospective investor called back and agreed to meet.

That single meeting was the beginning of a business relationship that I still maintain to this day. (For the record, this guy was worth 67 million dollars.)

Later when I worked with a producer in New York City, I found out that the strategy for finding investors wasn’t much different.

So the first step in finding a prospective investor is to ask friends and family if they “know of” any rich people. If someone mentions a name, reach out and request a meeting. If no names are mentioned, then I would pick up the Yellow Pages and look for the biggest ad. People pay a lot for those ads – so if you find one, why not attempt to connect with the CEO for a meeting?

Is there a group of people that invest in projects?

If you Google “investment clubs,” you will get a ton of results. Just know that if you find a legit group, they probably focus on popular investments like stocks or real estate. While I would encourage you to attend a few meetings, refrain from pitching your agenda until you make sure members are open to new types of investments. Your initial goal with any first meeting is to make friends and see where it takes you.

Assuming you take the necessary actions that lead you to prospective investors, I would not make a pitch until you figured out how to answer a few basic questions, usually as part of your business plan:

  1. How will the money be spent?
  2. How will you recoup the money?
  3. How soon will you recoup the money?
  4. What is the projected ROI?
  5. Why should they invest in your project over other investments?

Think of it like this – Most investors make 8% to 12% on their money in a good mutual fund. Add the fact that a solid real estate investment could produce this return, plus cashflow and it is easy to understand why asking people to invest in an unproven project is challenging.

Thoughts on Crowdfunding?

Aside from raising money, the more important aspects of crowdfunding include testing, proving and pre-selling a concept. Additionally, a crowdfunding campaign allows you to test the footprint of your social influence. When crowdfunding attempts fail, it could mean the concept is not yet interesting to the marketplace, the filmmaker’s social media reach is limited or both.

When in doubt, think of your project from the perspective of a prospective investor. What seems more risky? The guy who just had a successful crowdfunding campaign, sourced a mailing list of 10,000 people and has advertisers offering to buy advertising space… Or the unproven project with no plan for ROI.

Don’t be that guy.

Just because you are filmmaker, producing a short, webseries or feature does not mean that you are no longer bound to the general principals of business. You must never forget that you are creating a product. So before you approach any prospective investor, you need to first figure out how your project will make money.

In the end, while there is no such thing as a secret film investing club, the are financial rewards if you’re willing to hustle.

If you like this film finance advice, check out the Film Finance Guide.