The Smart Filmmaker’s Guide To Independent Film Financing

If you’re looking for independent film financing, take a number. Every filmmaker on earth wants an easy solution to finding money. It’s a BIG challenge.

Even guys like Tom Malloy (who’s raised over 25M to produce his movies) would agree that there is no easy solution to independent film financing.

Any person who says there is a “done for you” solution requiring no work is a fibber.

The independent film financing process can get more accessible with the proper strategy, especially when creating a game plan. But getting the money will still involve pitching and possible rejection. And before we start talking about independent film financing tips, let me provide a little context.

When I was starting, I knew nothing about independent film financing. I met with several “producers” who were happy to drill me for information. They wanted to know what I had learned. But for some odd reason, they refused to share their film financing secrets with me. That aspect of the process was a bit annoying.

Through the years, I uncovered a fundamental truth about independent film financing. Each indie film is a start-up. And because start-ups usually depend upon raising money, the process of raising money is nothing new. This means most prospective investors are used to hearing business pitches.

independent film financing

The Smart Filmmaker’s Guide To Independent Film Financing

The traditional ways people raise money in the United States, aside from going to a bank and getting a loan (which I wouldn’t recommend as an independent film financing strategy),  usually work like this:

  1. Meet with an attorney and assemble some complex paperwork (including a private placement memorandum) per the Securities and Exchange Commission regulations.
  2. Creating relationships and meeting with prospective investors.
  3. Asking for money – and then getting the check!

While I distilled the whole independent film financing process down to the bare essentials, each step will involve considerable time and effort on your part. I suggest planning for more than a few months of heavy (HEAVY) grinding.

How much money do you need to raise? Do you need a few million to make it? Or can your project be done for much less?

This budget factor alone will highly influence your strategy. Just keep in mind – If you’ve worked hard to eliminate costs in your budget, making a fancy-looking movie for much less than you think is possible.

Risk Versus Reward

It’s not enough to have a movie project. You must constantly ask yourself: “What’s in it for the investor?” In other words, given all the different investment opportunities like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and real estate – Why should your prospective investor dump their money into your project?

This comes down to risk versus reward. In the game of independent film financing, you must ethically convince your prospective investor that no other investment (at this time) offers the same benefits. How will you personally eliminate risks and increase the reward? (Each investor has a unique risk tolerance.)

5 Tips On Independent Film Financing

Let’s take a look at some traditional action steps for independent film financing:

  1. Cultivate legitimate friendships with wealthy and successful people.
  2. Get an attorney to write up something called a private placement memorandum.
  3. Figure out how you’ll spend the money (Hint, this is your movie budget!)
  4. Figure out how you’ll get the money back.
  5. Over a million, and you may run into trouble getting a return on your investment.

Now again. Raising money is simple (find rich people and ask for money). Still, the laws, rules, and regulations mean you’ll need to know a few things about protecting yourself and your business from liability.

If you’re looking for more independent film financing resources, you may want to check out the system I produced with Tom Malloy. Check out our film finance guide by going here.

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ARTICLE BY Jason Brubaker

If you'd like more tactics like the article you just read, make sure to grab a copy of the filmmaker checklist. You'll get 65 useful steps you can employ to produce your next feature film.