Filmmakers Need To Get Debt Free

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Learning how to manage money is one of the most important traits of an independent filmmaker. Because many filmmakers are focused on a big Hollywood payday, they have decided to live paycheck to paycheck, shackled by high debt.

If you’re that person right now, you’re not alone.

It wasn’t too long ago that I lived with no savings and thousands of dollars in debt. I had no idea how to turn myself around. Luckily, I met some very successful people who set me straight.

They told me about “FU money.”

In Hollywood, when you get a bunch of money in the bank, it’s called FU money. You know you have FU money when you can enter into negotiations and walk out of the deal without the fear of starvation.

The most valuable success strategy for acquiring FU money is: “Pay Yourself First.”

When I first heard this concept, I had no idea what the heck people were talking about. But after meeting with some power players, I realized the idea is simple. Whenever you get a paycheck, before you pay any bills or fill up your gas tank, set a little money aside and never touch it. That’s all you gotta do.

I know. I know. Most independent filmmakers want to save money but feel too strapped to take action. This is because each month is filled with bills and other unexpected expenses. For this reason, most people put off saving until the end of the month. The problem is, by that time, there is nothing left to save.

And please let me remind you, as a general disclaimer, since I’m a filmmaker and not a qualified legal, tax or financial professional, even if the following strategy provided me with a bunch of FU money, this stuff may not be right for you. So, please talk to a qualified professional first.

One day, I decided to follow a successful friend’s advice. And while it took me a long time, I eventually dug myself out of debt and lifted that financial weight off my back. Here is what I did:

  1. I wrote down all monthly income, including paycheck, extra jobs, etc.
  2. I wrote down all monthly expenses, including bills, groceries, gas, etc.
  3. I subtracted the expenses from the income.
  4. I had some money left, so I figured out how much to save.
  5. I opened a high-interest online savings account.
  6. I set up automatic withdraws each payday and pretended it was a bill.
  7. No matter what, for one year I didn’t touch the money!
  8. After one year, I paid off my credit card debt.
  9. After another year, I spoke to a financial adviser and started investing.
  10. After another year, I built up an emergency fund.

After saving, I not only had enough money to get out of debt, I had also developed the valuable life-long habit of always paying myself first. FU!

Learning how to manage your own money will give you confidence when you begin managing your movie projects. Thankfully, there are many financial software programs and online services to help you stay on top of your finances.

Since 2001 (when I was making about 10K a year – I wish I was kidding), I have been using one of the popular accounting software programs. Since that time, I have migrated into the free version of Quicken online. Other friends use Yodlee. And some of my other friends still use a spreadsheet. All of these programs will give you a daily snapshot of your net worth, your spending habits, your bank accounts and your credit card accounts. Most will also chart your investment activity. Some of the more advanced programs allow you to work out a budget and offer debt elimination tools.

The reason why becoming a good money manger is essential to filmmaking is because most prospective investors will sense how you feel about money.

If you liked this sort of unique filmmaking advice, you’ll love the independent producers guide to movie finance.

 

How To Find Investors For Your Movie

If you ever wondered how to get money to make your movie, you’re not alone. As filmmakers, many of us would rather focus on our filmmaking – And if we had it our way, we would save the go-get-movie-money for a producer.

Back when I started my filmmaking career, I crossed my fingers a lot, hoping that some producer would magically appear in my life, discover my  brilliant material and give me a million dollars to make my movie. Of course the reality is: you get nothing in life until stop allowing other people to give you permission.

In my situation, I did not know producers. I did not have money. And I didn’t know any rich people.  But I knew I wanted to make movies. And I knew I needed money.

Then later, as I expanded my network to include other filmmakers, my nagging question was always in the back of my mind. “How do I get the money to make my movie?”

While asking around, most people told me I needed to find a willing doctor or dentist and ask them for money. UGH! That was so frustrating. The reason? Because it’s old thinking. In the past, movies were a good tax shelter for wealthy self employed professions. Not so much anymore. (Of course I learned that the hard way!)

It wasn’t until I moved to New York City and worked with a producer when I finally learned how people REALLY finance their movies. I learned there is a well defined, systematic approach to getting money. And it doesn’t involve self employed dentists and doctors.

If you’re looking for movie money, here are some tips:

  1. Ask around and see if you have rich people in your network. Then meet them.
  2. People make money in different ways. As employees, self employed, big business owners and investors. Make sure you know how your prospective investor makes money. Then form your pitch accordingly.
  3. Despite popular thought, most prospective investors were not born rich. Many are self made. They value hard work. And they will be looking to see what you can do for them.

As you go out and build relationships with prospective movie investors, just remember – Your independent movie is YOUR business. Respect it accordingly.

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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