Film Finance: 5 Tips to Find Out if Your “Rich Guy” is Real

5 Tips to Find Out if Your “Rich Guy” is Real
By filmmaker, author and film finance expert Tom Malloy

Film finance is all about trying to land an HNI (High Net Worth Individual) for your film.  And one of the main obstacles film makers face is qualifying if an investor is “Real.”

In other words, REAL means that he or she CAN actually fund your film.

Real investors are not guys who know other guys.  Real investors are the guys that can actually put in the money.

film finance expert Tom Malloy

Film Finance expert Tom Malloy

Film Finance: 5 Tips to Find Out if Your “Rich Guy” is Real

So if you are looking for film finance, I present to you 5 tips for you to know in your quest to find who’s real and who’s not!

1. Google your prospective investor.  It sounds simple, and it is.  Do your research on the guy.  It’s easy to find out information if you just take the time and search for it.

2. Take into account what he’s wearing and what he’s driving.  Sometimes relying solely on image is a mistake.  In the world of film finance, sometimes the guy with the 3 piece suit is the phony and the guy in shorts and a t-shirt is the eccentric millionaire.  But where does he live?  What does he drive?  Many HNIs enjoy the comforts their money brings.  This method is not foolproof, but it does work 90% of the time.  I had a meeting with a prospective investor and he was missing some teeth.  His teeth were Real, but he wasn’t.

3. Does he pick up the check?  I say it over and over again.  If you are eating dinner/lunch with a potential investor and he/she doesn’t pick up the check, I can 99% guarantee that you will never get a penny out of them.  If they care so little about you that they cannot invest $50 for a meal, you ain’t getting their money.

4. If he starts talking about “money coming in”, he’s not real.  Had this happen many times.  Someone talks about some bank deals or commissions that will be upcoming.  Walk away.  Don’t get your hopes up… it never closes.

5. Is it too easy?  This is an interesting one.  If your film finance efforts seem to be going too easy, a red flag should pop up.  Closing money is not easy.  And if the guy doesn’t really look at your business plan or do his homework, chances are he doesn’t have the money to fund your project and he’s just pretending.

Here’s the key to film finance… You must ALWAYS be in research mode!

I start almost every film finance meeting asking a prospective investor questions about himself or herself.  I’ve also came to that meeting having Googled them and I usually know some info already. Pay attention… don’t be too anxious.  Analyze all the information you’re given and your ratio of closing will increase dramatically!

If you’d like more film finance information so you can find out how I raised over 25 million to make my movies – Check out the film finance guide.

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Tom Malloy is an Actor, Writer and Producer, specializing in independent film finance. He is the author of BANKROLL: A New Approach to Financing Feature Films, which is the best reviewed book on film financing, and is considered a “gold standard” in indie films circles. To date, Tom has raised over $15 million in private equity from independent financiers.

Five things Every New Filmmaker Should Know

Being a first time filmmaker is like navigating rough waters. In fact, making movies is one of the few jobs in the world that, when done correctly looks extremely easy. If you know anything about the craft, you know making movies is challenging.

However, do not let the idea of the work involved or the potential difficulty of the task stop you from making your first flick.

If it was easy everybody would be doing it right?

Five things Every New Filmmaker Should Know

Here are a few tips I  learned while producing my first feature length movie. These are the same things I think every first time film-maker should know.

1. No Such Thing as being too Prepared

You can’t really state this enough. Sounds like it would be common knowledge but the truth is a lot of film-makers/directors go into their projects not having thought out the little things that need to be done. Having back-up locations, what to do if an actor becomes unavailable, How to continue if money becomes an issue?

All these things (and more) happen and many first-timers get stuck because of them but if you take a little time and prepare a “business plan” of sorts to produce your feature you can prevent a great deal of hiccups. This is extra work but worth it!

2. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

I have often said the biggest obstacle I’ve had as a film-maker was myself. I didn’t know that the statement applied to many people. We tend to talk ourselves out of the job before the job has begun and feelings of  “I’m not good enough,” or “I can’t do what they do” or “I’ll never make it!” These doubts flood our brains. This is a common thought process amongst most artist. Read this book: Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking.

The point is this. Get past it. Some people or going to like what you do and some people are going to hate what you do. But you’ll never have the chance to be good or bad if you don’t take the chance. Besides what the heck do people that never picked up a camera or written a script know about the process anyway?

3. Don’t Underestimate what you own

Another big derailing factor is, “I don’t have access to props, actors, locations, et al.” Wrong! You have things that you use everyday. You have access to things that your friends and family uses. Make a list (getting prepared again) of all the items and locations that you can use to get your movie done.

Having that list will get you mind wrapped around the possibility of your movie become a reality. Yeah, technically you don’t own actors but the point is you can get some for free. LOTS of acting websites, groups, classes and more out there! Believe me, many want to do project just to create a reel and be part of something. Use that to your benefit.

4. Keep From being Overwhelmed

Although it may feel like it there is no reason for you to swamp yourself with every little task on set and in post-production. Find help. Much like the actors, there are people out there that find working on a movie of any size sexy and will help for the experience. If you really work at it you can develop a small group of production staff to keep the wheels of your movie underneath and rolling.

5. Cut Your Losses Quick

Just because you’re getting work for free doesn’t mean that you have to deal with the possible crap that some people will general. This is the advice I wish I knew making my first. Sometimes people change their minds, schedules begin to conflict or any number of things may happen to play havoc with your production but remember your production is as important to the people that invested their time in it as it is to you.

You owe it to them and yourself to do what it takes to keep that project moving and sometimes that means making the hard decisions. Anything that becomes cancerous on your set (you’ll know it when you see it) get rid of it fast! If not it may just drag your production into the toilet.

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Brian Green is an independent filmmaker based in Atlanta, Georgia. Since 1999 has worked on and off in the television and film industry. His first movie, The Interrogation. (2011), was an official selection at the (2011) Bronze Lens film festival. It was brought to Atlanta television airing on Atlanta Shorts – PBA30 and will air in National Syndicated television with Africian-American Shorts (2013). Brian is currently in production on another movie, The End Agenda (2012).

Audio Production Engineer

You can’t fix audio in post  I mean, you can. Assuming you have the money and the time to record ADR and hire a group of audio professionals, you can probably fix some of your audio. But as guest poster Tony Tartaglia shares, having a skilled and thorough audio production engineer is an essential part of making a quality, polished film:

As an audio production engineer, I have viewed a lot of independent films and documentaries, and the one thing that stands out more than the quality of the filming and special effects, is the soundtrack, or lack of a proper one. Many independent films and documentaries sound weak or hollow, and in others, the music bed overpowers the dialog tracks.

What makes the audio weak or hollow? Most low budget film makers use a quality camera with an attached microphone, so the distance from actor to camera is the same distance from actor to microphone, greatly reducing the sound pressure level arriving at the microphone while allowing other noises to enter the microphone. The further the microphone is from the source, the more open and hollow the sound is.

Try this experiment. Video a friend speaking any lines at a distance of two feet, now do the identical shot from a distance of twelve feet. It should be quite obvious which one sounds better. The shot from two feet will sound better but look bad, while the one shot from twelve feet will sound bad but look great.

A common remedy for this bad audio is to add music to the track. All this does is further bury the dialog, making the film a chore to listen to, and detracting from the essence of what is being said. In some cases, there is so much noise in the audio tracks, that the film is not even worth watching.

Just to be fair to the videographers out there, I researched two Sony professional handy cameras: the DSR-PD150 which retails for approximately $1300, and the HVR-Z7U which retails for approximately $4000. I found a very curious fact. The two cameras sport the same microphone: the ECM-XM1 which retails for $129. Apparently, the extra $3000 for the HVR-Z7U went into the video capturing and not the sound capturing. Why?

Sony, as with all of the other professional camera manufacturers, realizes that the onboard microphone is for reference audio, and not for the sound track. On board microphones that are rigidly attached to a camera body pick up every noise that is generated within the camera and, worse yet, every noise that is transmitted through the camera, the “handling noise.” For anyone who’s been to a live event and someone bumps into a live microphone or tries to grab a live mic out of a stand, you know what I mean.

Professional sound companies use two microphones that conform to industry standards: The Sennheiser MKH-416 which retails for just under $1000, and the Schoeps CMIT5U which retails for $2100. These microphones are used in dialog acquisition by the boom operator for the sound recorder, and the purpose is to place the microphone closer to the speaker or actor than the camera. Trained boom operators can move the microphone to and fro without generating noise, thereby getting a cleaner sound. This is where it starts, getting the cleanest sound possible into the film.

Next time we will look at the roles of the on-set sound team.

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Tony Tartaglia holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree awarded from the International Academy of Design and Technology in Tampa, Florida and owns his own mixing and editing studio. Tony can be reached for consultations and audio production through his website at [email protected]