Independent movie investors invest because they want a return on their money. Creating a business plan will provide your prospective investor with a road map on how his or her money will be spent and hopefully recouped. In the old filmmaking model this wasn’t easy. Because distribution was once discriminatory, many first time independent feature filmmakers had to hold their breath in hopes their movies would get into a film festival, buil buzz, and (hopefully) garner a great distribution deal, complete with a cash advance. But that is an outdated model.
Most filmmaking business plans are stupid. Why? Because most filmmakers have no idea (especially first time filmmakers) how to project a return on investment. Don’t feel bad. It’s not your fault.
So if you happen to be one of those filmmakers with tons of ideas, but no feature credits, I highly suggest you focus less on finding someone to do the heavy lifting and instead, focus on testing the market to gain a realistic approach to your projects.
The veterans of the movie industry tell us that all this distribution deal disappointment is a result of improved technology. They optimistically tell us that our lost DVD revenues will be recouped by Video On Demand. Some refer to this as simply a market correction, implying that someday, somewhere, someone will figure out how to once again pay the big bucks for movies. But this is a pipe-dream.
In years past, filmmakers only self distributed their movies when they had to. It wasn’t a choice! But these days, filmmakers can choose to self-distribute, because 9 times out of 10, making your title available on Amazon and iTunes and other popular VOD marketplaces can potentially pay more than a traditional deal. Because a deal that pays zero is not a deal. (Of course I’m expressing my opinion.)
Over the weekend, I met with some key members of my film production crew, including my writer friend. He, myself and a core group of filmmaking friends are working a rough idea into a fine-tuned movie, complete with a marketable hook and an established, niche target audience. (If you’re just tuning into filmmaking stuff, you’ll quickly learn that starting with a defined target market in one strategy I use to hedge my eventual need for return on investment – more on this in the distribution and finance articles found at Filmmaking Stuff.)