Film Financing

Film financing and financing movies for independent filmmakers is one of the most challenging aspects of the movie making process. You can have the greatest screenplay, the most talented cast and stellar movie locations – but without movie money, you are just another would-be filmmaker with a dream and a passion. The film finance articles at Filmmaking Stuff provide tips on how to view independent filmmaking as a business.

Question: Should Filmmakers Move To Hollywood?

Should filmmakers move to Hollywood?

That’s the question I asked myself as I packed everything I could into my car.

I had spent the previous year grinding towards filmmaking success in New York City, while sleeping on an inflatable air mattress. And after burning through my bank account, I was looking for a change.

Hollywood seemed like a much more exciting alternative.

It took me 10 days to drive the country. Two of the days were spent in the never ending Texas highway. (Seriously, if you never drove across Texas alone, don’t!)

Should Filmmakers Move To Hollywood?

Little did I know, but Hollywood is full of guys like me. In fact, year after year thousands of Hollywood hopefuls answer the “Should filmmakers move to Hollywood” question with a definitive YES.

And I understand that you know this.

But you don’t really know this until you’re here. Within the first week, you will see your doppelganger, a lot. You will overhear conversations too. Literally everywhere you go, someone is talking movies or “the industry.”

And even though you sort of suspect that the odds of your filmmaking success is greater than the next guy, deep down you know you’re just a small fish in a big pond.

But you can’t deny it.

No matter where you are in the world, Hollywood represents a much bigger game.

And the only thing that differentiates you from the gazillion other Hollywood hopefuls is the work. Nothing matters more than actually picking up a camera and making something – Anything.

Filmmakers_Move_To_Hollywood

Should Filmmakers Move To Hollywood?

I guess my experiences in New York served me well. When I arrived, I immediately met up with some equally ambitious filmmakers and together, we produced, marketed and sold our first feature.  It was a silly zombie movie.

The movie went viral. It opened the door for a few of us.  My buddy Jared wrote it. He got an agent. And I ended up working professionally in video on demand distribution.

In the years since, I have consulted with well over 300 filmmakers on their distribution strategy. And if I learned anything, it’s the fact that everything has changed in filmmaking.

Since making our first feature, there have been some serious developments in production technology. And once again, this forces us to confront the age old question.

In fact one of our Filmmaking Stuff newsletter readers named Jake asked the following question:

“My filmmaking friend in LA told me NOT to make anything in my small town because I would just be wasting my time. He told me no one in the industry will take me seriously if I make my 1st feature outside of Hollywood. So instead of making what I CAN make right now, I’ve been working to move to LA to start doing something… My question is this: is he right?”

So dear reader – Should filmmakers move to Hollywood?

. . . my response to this question is a big fat NO!

Unless you plan on working for a major studio, you no longer need Hollywood.

If you are a filmmaker with an idea and the passion to create a feature film, you can do it from anywhere on earth.

Here are a few reasons why:

Getting Money In Hollywood Sucks

Everybody in Los Angeles is competing to find someone (or some studio) willing to back their movie project.

Can you imagine a town where your waiter is an aspiring actor, your cable guy is an aspiring screenwriter and your taxi driver is an aspiring producer?

Hollywood is saturated with an over-supply of willing, talented, aspiring workers.

And they are all waiting for their big break.

Even if you do raise the money to make your movie, you’ll have to raise a lot more to shoot in LA, because everything (locations, equipment, props, and permits) makes making movies in LA cost prohibitive and a royal pain in the butt.

What a mess!

On the other-hand, if you live in small town and you have good material and ambition, you’re in luck.

If you can get past the fact that all your non-filmmaker friends think you’re crazy, you can build a team, find cheap locations (and other resources, including free food) and you can take action.

Heck, you might even make the nightly news  – When this happens, just make sure you advertise your movie website and start building your audience list!

And. . .

Unlike trying to get a meeting with a busy, semi famous studio executive who never heard of you – If you call up the local rich guy to make a pitch, your odds of getting a lunch meeting are pretty high.

As I detail extensively in my film financing program, getting meetings does not guarantee success.

But it’s a start!

And let’s pretend for a moment that your town has no rich people. Well, thanks to crowdfunding sites like indieGoGo and Kickstarter you can now reach an entire global audience of people who may be interested in sponsoring your work.

Filmmaking Equipment is Now Cheap

When I was getting my start, I saved up an entire summer to buy a used Arri BL 16mm Camera. I shot a short film over a weekend. And then I spent the entire winter saving up enough money to process and transfer the film to video.

That sucked.

Times have changed.

These days, if you want to create cinematic quality content all you have to do is go to your local electronics store and pick up an HDSLR camera and start producing your backyard indie. As long as you take time to understand lighting and camera angles, your end result will look pretty amazing.

Distribution Changes Everything

Read this part carefully.

Everyday I am amazed that more filmmakers are not getting naked and running into the streets cheering (Ok. I’m kidding.) But here is the deal…

The biggest, most awesome change in cinematic HISTORY is distribution. And modern movie distribution changes EVERYTHING!

Thanks to all these platforms found at  Distribber  (yes, they are back and they pay me to promote) – Anyway,  you can now get your movie into sites like Hulu, Amazon, iTunes and other VOD outlets – Without giving away all of your rights (for life) to some distributor who will likely never pay you what they promised.

What does this mean for Modern MovieMakers?

This means that instead of raising money and crossing your fingers for a dream distribution deal, you can now create a marketing plan within the context of your movie business plan.

This is important and liberating.

Non-discriminatory distribution allows filmmakers to treat their movie business like any other business. You do not need to ask permission to create a product, access a marketplace and make sales!

In other-words, as long as you have a camera and internet access, you can now make, market and sell your movies without asking permission. (Ok, if you really want to get naked and run into the streets, I won’t stop you.)

A few words about marketing.

Whenever I put on my  film distribution talks, invariably someone will ask me about marketing. And it’s a good point. Because distribution is now part of your movie making business, you will need someone on your team who can market.

Here is the big disconnect.

Hollywood (and traditional sales agents and distributors) will tell you to leave distribution to the experts. They will tell you to give up the rights to your movie because their company has been in business for a gazillion years.

But this kind of talk is crap. I mean, obviously if these guys offer you a huge cash advance, it might make sense.

But if there is no money involved, what value are they giving you? The promise of getting your movie seen and selling on iTunes and Hulu? You can just as easily access iTunes and Hulu too.

My point is, unless these old-timers know how to source the appropriate target audience (and they openly share their marketing budget with you and are fully transparent with each marketing step) then there is no value to give away your rights in exchange for validation. Validation and a crappy distribution deal does not pay the bills!

Should Filmmakers Move To Hollywood?

Wow. I intended to write a quick reply to this BIG question and I totally blasted you with my filmmaking passion.

Instead of asking: “Should filmmakers move to Hollywood?”

Consider a better question:

“Given the resources that I have now, what is the movie that I can make this year?”

Hopefully you are now inspired to make, market and sell your movie from anywhere on earth. If that’s the case, I’d love to read your comments below.

One last thing…

After reading articles like this, I get a lot of emails from filmmakers who need some additional help. So if you would like to find out more about filmmaking process, you might just want to check out some of these professional filmmaking tools.

 

5 Tips On Independent Film Financing

If you’re looking for independent film financing, take a number.

Every filmmaker on earth wants an easy solution for finding the money.

It’s a BIG challenge. (But you already know this!)

In the years since I started, social media and various crowdfunding platforms like Seed&Spark, Indiegogo and Kickstarter have emerged with the goal of accelerating the independent film financing process. And while these tools aim to make the process easier, you will still need to infuse your efforts with resilience, passion and a game plan.

And here’s the deal. . . Even guys like Tom Malloy (who’s raised over 25M to produce his own movies) would agree that there is no easy solution to independent film financing.

Any person who says there is a “done for you” solution that requires absolutely no work on your part is a fibber.

(Please note: With the proper strategy the independent film financing process can get a little easier. Especially when you create a game plan. But getting the money will still involve pitching and possible rejection.)

And before we start talking about independent film financing tips, let me provide a little context.

I don’t know about you – but when I was starting out, I knew nothing about independent film financing. I met with quite a few “producers” who were happy to drill me for information. They wanted to know what I knew. . .  But for some odd reason, they refused to share their film financing secrets with me.

That aspect of the process was a bit annoying.

But through the years I uncovered a fundamental truth about independent film financing. . . Ready?

Each indie film is a start up. And because start-ups usually depend upon raising money, the process of raising money is nothing new. This means most prospective investors are used to hearing business pitches.

Independent Film Financing

The traditional ways people raise money in the United States, aside from going to a bank and getting a loan (which I wouldn’t recommend as an independent film financing strategy),  usually works like this:

  1. Meet with an attorney and put together some complex paperwork (which includes a private placement memorandum) in-line with the Securities and Exchange Commission regulations.
  2. Creating relationships and meeting with prospective investors.
  3. Asking for money – and then getting the check!

While I distilled the whole independent film financing process down to the bare essentials, each step will involve considerable time and effort on your part. My suggestion here is to plan for more than a few months of heavy (and I mean HEAVY) grinding.

How much money do you need to raise? Do you need a few million to make it? Or can your project be made for much less?

This budget factor alone will highly influence your strategy. Just keep in mind – If you’ve worked really hard to eliminate costs in your budget, then it’s possible to make a fancy looking movie for much less than you think.

Risk Versus Reward

It’s not enough to have a movie project. What you need to constantly ask yourself is: “What’s in it for the investor?” In other words, given all the other investment opportunities like stocks, bonds, mutual funds and real estate – Why should your prospective investor dump their money into your project.

This comes down to risk versus reward. In the game of independent film financing, you will need to ethically convince your prospective investor that no other investment (at this time) offers the same benefits. How will you personally eliminate risks and increase the reward? (Each investor has a unique risk tolerance.)

5 Tips On Independent Film Financing

Lets take a look at some traditional action steps for independent film financing:

  1. Cultivate a legitimate friendships with rich and successful people.
  2. Get an attorney to write up something called a private placement memorandum.
  3. Figure out how you’ll spend the money (Hint, this is your movie budget!)
  4. Figure out how you’ll get the money back.
  5. Over a million and you may run into some trouble getting a return on your investment.

Independent Film FinancingNow again. Raising money is a super simple subject (just find rich people and ask for the money) – but the laws and rules and regulations mean that you’ll need to know a few things about protecting yourself and your business from liability.

If you’re looking for more independent film financing resources, you may want to check out the system I produced with Tom Malloy. Check out our film finance guide by going here.

 

Crowdfunding Kentucky Rivalry: Red V. Blue

For many filmmakers, running a crowdfunding campaign has become an essential phase of the film financing process. A few days ago, Filmmaker Rory Delaney reached out about his second feature documentary, Kentucky Rivalry: Red V. Blue.

Jason Brubaker
Tell us about your latest project and yourself.

Rory Delaney
Kentucky Rivalry: Red V. Blue is my second feature documentary. Prior to this, my feature documentary Toxic Soup played the film festival circuit and aired on Free Speech TV, Explora TV and Ushuaia TV.

Jason Brubaker
And you just did a short between features?

Rory Delaney
Yes. My most recent short doc Virtual Iraq Redux was named one of 100 semifinalists in the 2012 Focus Forward Filmmaking Challenge.

Jason Brubaker
And on top of all this, you’re finding time to manage the web at MovieMaker?

Rory Delaney
Yeah. I am the managing web editor at MovieMaker Magazine, and before that, I worked with Jon Reiss at Hybrid Cinema.

Jason Brubaker
Why did you decide to do this film?

Rory Delaney
Kentucky Rivalry: Red V. Blue came about because I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. As a kid, I remember the endless arguments in gym class about which school had the superior basketball program. Was it the University of Louisville or the University of Kentucky? Red or blue?

Jason Brubaker
Sounds like an ongoing heated discussion.

Rory Delaney
That’s putting it lightly. This is a constant point of contention. And that’s a passion that has never left me.

Jason Brubaker
Even with all your moving and moviemaking?

Rory Delaney
Yeah. Even after I moved to Dallas, then New Haven, London, New York, and finally, Los Angeles, I made the effort to watch the annual rivalry game in the hopes that my Cards would thrash the Cats, and thus, secure year-long bragging rights.

Jason Brubaker
Do a lot of people share this passion?

Rory Delaney
Totally. All of my friends and most people I know from Kentucky are exactly the same way about their basketball. Every December when the annual UofL-UK game is played I spend about a quarter of the game trading texts with my Wildcats fan friends.

Jason Brubaker
So at what point did you decide to make this your next feature documentary?

Rory Delaney
Three years ago, I was under siege from producer Wade Smith, a diehard UK fan from Paintsville, Kentucky who befriended years ago in the Toxic Soup days, and that’s when the idea finally hit me. This is the best college basketball rivalry in the United States hands-down!

Jason Brubaker
So Wade became your producing partner?

Rory Delaney
I texted Wade: UofL-UK documentary? He called me immediately, and we got to work. What’s remarkable is that we ended up filming the documentary at what is arguably the pinnacle of this heated college hoops feud. In 2012 UK won it all after defeating UofL in the Final Four in New Orleans. And in 2013 Louisville went on a run, clinching back-to-back Big East Championships before putting the cherry on top: the 2013 national championship. The gods were smiling on us.

Jason Brubaker
So it’s a very timely subject. And now you’re doing a Kickstarter campaign.

Rory Delaney
Yes. Because of the popularity of college basketball in Kentucky and around the world, we decided to take Kentucky Rivalry: Red V. Blue to Kickstarter, the world’s most popular fundraising website. This allows the most rabid fans to participate.

Jason Brubaker
When do you expect the movie to be ready?

Rory Delaney
If we are able to successfully raise the finishing funds, the movie should be done by Christmas.

Jason Brubaker
What is your promotional strategy for the Kickstarter campaign?

Rory Delaney
We have completed several local radio and TV appearances in Kentucky in promotion of the documentary and the Kickstarter campaign. In addition to this, there are a lot of websites and blogs who have promised us continued coverage throughout our campaign to help us get the word out about what we are doing.

Jason Brubaker
That’s great. And what are you doing to incentivize supporters?

Rory Delaney
We have a series of photos, videos and new rewards that we will be unveiling as the 40 day campaign unfolds. By releasing these assets at critical junctures, we believe that we will be able to maintain our momentum and reach our $40,000 goal.

Jason Brubaker
Once you finish the movie, what are your plans for distribution?

Rory Delaney
We are planning on releasing Kentucky Rivalry: Red V. Blue in theaters big and small across the state of Kentucky in December 2013 in advance of the annual Louisville-Kentucky basketball game. Because UofL and UK won back-to-back championships, passions will be at a fever pitch for this year’s game in particular.

Jason Brubaker
So you’re making the movie available to the fans at a critical time.

Rory Delaney
Yes. By releasing Kentucky Rivalry: Red V. Blue in this window, we hope to capitalize on the preseason hype surrounding the two teams and their rivalry.

Jason Brubaker
What will you do after the screenings?

Rory Delaney
We are looking to make domestic and international television sales of Kentucky Rivalry: Red V. Blue, as well as to release the documentary both digitally and on DVD.

Jason Brubaker
I think it is super exciting to make movies where your fan base is well defined.

Rory Delaney
Even outside of the base, we want to let the world in on Kentucky’s biggest secret: The State is home to the best college basketball in the nation!

Jason Brubaker
What can we do to help you?

Rory Delaney
Please consider donating to our kickstarter campaign and sharing this one-of-a-kind movie with college basketball fans, documentary lovers and the check-out guy at the grocery store. Seriously. Every eyeball counts, and we need your help!

– – –
Rory Owen Delaney grew up in Louisville, KY but currently lives in Los Angeles, CA where he founded Man Bites Dog Films. Rory co-produced the documentary Bomb It 2 after writing, directing and editing the feature documentary Toxic Soup, as seen on HULU and Free Speech TV, among others. His latest short documentary Virtual Iraq Redux was named one of 100 semifinalists in the international Focus Forward Filmmaker Challenge. In 2010 Rory was named an honorary Kentucky Colonel by Governor Steve Beshear. Delaney holds a BA in English from Yale University and an MFA in dramatic writing from New York University. He is currently the Managing Web Editor at MovieMaker Magazine.

Make Filmmaking Your Next Small Business

Quiet please…we have speed…ACTION!

A new website is being launched today that will help take filmmaking out of Hollywood, and put it into the hands of everyday, creative people so that they can combine their life’s ambition of being a filmmaker with owning their own business.

makeyourmovienow.com is the brain child of Jason Brubaker, a Los Angeles-based independent filmmaker and an expert in Video On Demand distribution. He has hosted another filmmaking website, Filmmakingstuff.com for years and is taking his experience to the next level.

“makeyourmovienow.com is focused on helping YOU make, market and sell movies more easily,” he says. “The ways movies finally make it to market has changed. makeyourmovienow.com is specifically designed to help grow your fan base, build “buzz” and create community around your title.

“If you want to make a living making movies, you need to realize that your library and the subsequent audience you source (over your career) are your major assets. And, as a result, your most important filmmaking focus (aside from doing good work) is to acquire and keep a customer,” he emphasizes.

For filmmakers in need, makeyourmovienow.com covers the four key areas of film production: screenwriting, film financing, filmmaking and distribution.

Tell your filmmaking friends!