Make A Horror Movie

As a filmmaker, you need to start somewhere. I suggest you take action and make a horror movie.

Our first feature was a silly zombie movie. The production value was horrific. But the movie got a write up in Premiere Magazine, Fangoria and about one hundred horror related websites. As a result of this buzz, our crappy horror movie gained a cult following and sold very well.

As a result of popularity, our horror movie was pirated and is now available for free all over the internet. While this is not a filmmaking article focused on the merits of piracy as a marketing strategy – I did want to take a quick moment to remind you that you should probably get off your butt and make something.

Here are three reasons why filmmakers should make a horror movie:

  1. Horror Movies are inexpensive. With a good story, you do not necessarily need “name” actors.
  2. When you make a horror movie, finding your target audience is easy
  3. Even if your horror movie sucks, horror fans love to hate (and talk about) horror movies.

If you want to make a horror movie, my suggestion is to find a great script. Then break your script into a schedule and a budget.

Once you have an initial budget, create a crowdfunding campaign to test your concept. While getting money is a benefit of crowdfunding, the greater objective is to guage audience response and demand in the marketplace. Additionally, your crowdfunding campaign will allow you to test the reach of your social networks.

If successful, your crowdfunding campaign will emphasize the viability of your project in the marketplace. You can detail this in your business plan. Then with the added confidence of social proof, you can confidently enter meetings with prospective investors and demonstrate demand for your title.

Of course, if your crowdfunding campaign fails, all you gotta do is think up a new horror concept and start over.

Here is the trailer for Special Dead, our first feature, a crappy horror movie.

If I can make this type of movie, what is your excuse? Go grab a camera and make a horror movie!

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.

Filmmakers Need To Get Debt Free

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Filmmakers need to manage their money Image via Wikipedia

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.

 

The Secret To Filmmaking Success

If I could go back and talk to myself ten years ago… And if I could only share one filmmaking success tip, what would I say?

In two words: Cold Calling.

I know this may sound unrelated to filmmaking. But I can tell you that success is not created in a vacuum. It is created with the help and support of other people, including mentors and customers.

And while it is true that some people stumble upon contacts and get lucky, I would venture to say that over 90 percent of self-made successful people got what they wanted in life by utilizing some variation of the following three success tips:

First: They knew what they wanted.

Second: They made a plan to get what they wanted.

Third: They picked up the phone and cold called people who could help make their plan a reality.

Think about it. Could you go to “networking events” and try to find folks to help introduce you to the appropriate contact? Yes. But just as easily you could pick up the phone, call your prospective contact’s place of business and try to get him or her on the phone to make your pitch.

Will you get through? Maybe. Maybe not. But if you had a list of 100 prospects and you called all the people on that list, odds are good you would find someone willing to sit down with you.

Why is this important to your filmmaking? Because unless you ASK for what you want, how is anybody in life going to know how to find you?

If you would like to find out more about networking, success strategies and most importantly – how to find prospective investors for your next movie, you might want to check out the independent producer’s guide to getting movie money. You can find out more by clicking here  >>