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.

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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.

 

The Secret of Pitching to Film Investors (Shhhh. Don’t tell.)

I’m going to reveal some secrets for pitching to film investors. But before I do, I want you to know something. There is NO magic secret for pitching to film investors.

The process of finding and pitching to film investors is not nearly as complicated as many people would like you to believe. Pitching to film investors is a numbers game. The more people you talk to, the greater your chances of finding someone willing to invest.

So with that said, it’s important to note that most prospective film investors are business savvy. And they all ask the same question. What is the question?

Inevitability one of the most frequently asked questions film investors ask is:

“How do you plan to make, market and sell this movie and return my investment?”

In the old model of filmmaking, traditional distribution was a lottery. So in response, most filmmakers (especially first time filmmakers) say something like this:

“Filmmaking is risky. If we are lucky, we will get into Sundance and get a distribution deal.”

To that end, most film investors respond like this:

“What? That’s not a business – that’s gambling!”

film investors

Film Investors: The Secret of Pitching

Disclaimer: What I’m about to share is total FICTION and should NOT be used in any business plans you create because I am neither a lawyer or an accountant. And I express my right to free speech as I share this imaginary, yet very pragmatic scenario.

Picture this. You enter a room with a bunch of prospective film investors.

Filmmaker: In our business, we hold the rights to an outstanding screenplay that taps into a well targeted, genre specific audience. We have budgeted the movie for $100,000 dollars. And given the genre, we do not need star talent. We are keeping the budget low – most folks have agreed to work for a salary, and all have agreed to residual compensation in the back end.

Prospective Film Investors: I see…

Filmmaker: At present, our crowdfunding campaign has allowed us to test the concept. And with sixty days left in the campaign, we have already sourced several hundred donations, giving us $8,000 dollars to pay for our website, marketing and PR.

Prospective Film Investors: I see…

Filmmaker: Upon completion of our movie, the title will available in all the popular marketplaces, including Amazon and iTunes. And as we speak, in addition to crowfunding, we have already contacted our audience list of 20,000 people (from our last movie in a similar genre) who have expressed interest in this upcoming title. Combine this with several partner filmmakers which will roughly expand our audience footprint to well over 250,000 targeted viewers.

Prospective Film Investors: I see…

Filmmaker: So at the time of release, if we project sales at 2% of 250,000 people. This means that 5000 people will download the movie at 9.99… which will be close to 50K minus a 40%  marketplace fee and a 10% commission to our partners – and we should be able to immediately return $25,000.

Prospective Film Investors: Wow! You really did your homework.

Filmmaker: Each subsequent quarter, we would like to continually re-invest 10% of the revenue into further list building efforts. And we would like to keep 30% for the producer and crew compensation. Which should leave you with a 60% cash dividend, to be paid quarterly. Assuming we can bring in $30,000 per year, in 7 years we will have more than $200,000 in revenue for this title. At that time, $20,000 would have been paid to marketing, $60,000 would have been paid to cast and producers and $120,000 would have been paid to investors.

Prospective Investor: Then what?

Filmmaker: As soon as we pay back the initial investment, we would like to split our revenue 60/40. In other words, the producers and crew would get 60% and you would continue to get 40%.

Prospective Investor: I understand what you’re saying here.

Filmmaker: Of course, there is always the small chance that we could get lucky – if we got a 5% return on our initial campaign, and 12,500 people immediately downloaded the movie at $9.99, our revenue will be close to $125,000 – minus expenses. But I need to remind you that this is not likely. And we would still have to pay a commission.

Prospective Investor: Oh. This makes sense.

Fimmaker: Great. Would you like to invest?
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While I have provided a FICTIONAL example  (talk to an attorney and accountant before you ever pitch an idea) of how some filmmakers may decide to navigate this new movie business, my whole point here is this:

It is important to realize that success of a movie is no longer based solely on handing off the movie to some 3rd party distribution company. If you want to make it in this new world of filmmaking, you need to stop waiting for someone else to manage the business aspects of your movie and your career. Instead you now need to take a vested interest in the success of your project.

If you’re helming your movie project, nobody cares about it more than you. But if you aren’t afraid to provide everybody on your team with a bit of ownership too – you’ll soon be surprised to learn that word of mouth spreads a lot quicker when your entire cast and crew has a vested financial interest in the project.

In this regard, when you win, everybody wins!

Getting movie money begins first with making the call and building relationships with good prospective investors. So if you liked this article, you will love this professional film funding resource I created. Check it out by clicking here.

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DISCLAIMER (again) – I’m a filmmaker – not a lawyer or accountant. I’m expressing my freedom of speech for your entertainment. If you’re still reading this, I want to make it very clear that I made most of those figures up as a fictional EXAMPLE. You’ll have to figure out your own numbers and crunch your own data and make your own relationships with prospective investors. And always speak with a qualified professional before you do anything.

Private Film Investors

So you’re trying to woo some private film investors? Maybe you are gaining traction and you feel a deal a close – yet despite the great conversations, something feels elusive – the money!

As a filmmaker, know this. It does not matter how much you want to make a movie. Prospective investors do not care. What they care about is how your movie will benefit them.  If you find yourself getting rejected, it is probably because you forgot this point.

Some private film investors just want to feel significant. Some movie investors want to be famous. And still others want to know that investing in your movie will offer a financial return.

As you pitch your movie to prospective investors, you will experience enthusiasm, gain traction and then suffer defeat. It is not uncommon for calls to go unanswered or your prospect to be perpetually “in a meeting” and unable to talk. Do not take this personally. In every business, deals fall apart.

Strengthening your resolve and overcoming rejection will be one of the tougher parts of the process. It is important to remember that persistence coupled with the belief in your project is everything. Until the money is in the bank, you must continually push forward in the face of adversity. You must pitch your project to multiple prospective investors and always work to expand your network. Never settle until you achieve your goal. If you aren’t being rejected daily, you are not working hard enough.

But by pushing yourself beyond your current self will make the movie possible. In the Indie Producer’s Guide to Film Funding, you will discover specific tactics for actually finding and building relationships with powerful people and private film investors.

Meet Prospective Film Investors

One of the toughest parts of getting business minded prospective investors to take you seriously is distribution. Like it or not, your film distribution strategy has a ripple effect on all other aspects of your movie production, including film finance.

If you can not create a marketing, sales and distribution plan for your movie (that you control), your project becomes very risky.

Fortunately there are two developments that have helped in this arena.

Firstly, through companies like distribber (Disclosure: They pay me to promote) you now have the ability to get your movie into the marketplace. This allows you to create a business plan and marketing strategy with a fully accessible sales channel. (This is huge!)

Secondly, sites like Kickstarter and Indie GoGo allow you to crowdfund. With crowdfunding, you can test your concept long before you get into the marketplace. This will help you determine if your movie has a market – long before you dive into your project both feet first.

When you have a sales channel and a proven concept, having conversations with prospective investors will be much easier.

If you would like more information on movie marketing, check out these filmmaking tools.

Independent Film Financing

United States one-dollar bill

Today, I’m going to offer yet another bit of perspective on the whole question of how to raise money for movies.

As you may or may not know, independent film funding can be a little overwhelming. If you’ve ever dabbled in the business side of making a movie, you know what I mean. The first time I heard people talk about writing a business plan or offering a private placement memorandum, I suddenly felt like I was on another planet. And if you’re like most filmmakers, you would much rather focus on actually getting your movie made, instead of cold calling rich and successful people to set up random pitch meetings.

  • So, the first challenge you have in the world of film finance is: How do I find investors for my movie?
  • The second challenge is: How will my feature film provide enough ROI (return on investment) for my investor?

Assuming you’ve followed some of my previous advice on creating relationships with rich and successful people, even if you do make a favorable impression on a few rich folks, your potential film investors may still shy away from making an investment in your project. Why? Because without star talent, a known director, a film distribution outlet and an experienced crew – it’s very tough to answer the important question of ROI.

Your potential investors want to know how you plan on spending their money, how you plan on getting their money back, and when. Can you provide your investors with this information? If not, then you can understand why independent film financing, especially for your first feature, can be a pain in the butt.

However, having worked as an account executive for one of the biggest investment banks in the world, I would like to share some thoughts and end today’s article on a positive note. If you can come up with a plan that at least attempts to answer the question of ROI – then you’re in the ball park. While I can’t say it’s common, there are a few potential investors out there, for which their excess cash sometimes burns a hole in their pocket. These folks will assess the potential for gain and loss, and despite the risk (which you will always disclose and never hide!), they will still choose to do business with you.

I have a friend (who I’ll interview in a few weeks) – but anyway, he made a short film that went viral on the internet. One day he gets a call from a random multimillionaire who says he has always wanted to produce a movie. Suffice it to say, my buddy is now in pre-production on his first independent feature film.

Stranger things have happened. What’s important is that you keep pushing forward!

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If you are wondering how to get money for your movie – Almost every resource will tell you that you need a business plan. Very few resources will tell you how to actually go out, find prospective investors, qualify them, contact them, get a meeting and build a relationship.

Since getting money for movies was such a frustrating experience for me, I spent the last few months creating: The Independent Producer’s Guide To Financing Your Movie. In it, YOU will gain valuable insider experience so you can avoid my past mistakes, find investors and make your movie. To learn more CLICK HERE