5 Tips On How To Spot Hollywood Phonies

As movie producers, we all need money to make our movies, but finding real investors can be tricky. The movie industry attracts many people who talk about a big game but fail to deliver.


A big mistake many new movie producers make is meeting with anyone who expresses interest in funding their movie.

They get so excited about the possibilities that they don’t ask the tough questions. And while this type of “conversation contact buzz” is a good feeling, it is a waste of time.

You must do your homework and find out if the person you’re talking to is “real.” In other words, REAL means that they can fund your film.

Real movie investors are not people who know other people. Real investors are the people who can support your movie.

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

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

TIP 01. Google THE prospective investor

It sounds simple, and it is.

Do your research on the person.

It’s easy to find information if you take the time to search for it.

I go to every meeting having already Googled the prospective investor, and I usually know a lot of information.

I start almost every film finance meeting by asking prospective investors about themselves.


Relying solely on images is a mistake.

In the world of film finance, sometimes the person with the three-piece suit is phony, and the person in shorts and a t-shirt is the eccentric millionaire.

But where do they live? What do they drive? 

Many HNIs enjoy the comforts their money brings.

This method is not foolproof, but it does work 90% of the time.

I met with a “prospective investor” who was missing teeth. He wasn’t real.

TIP 03. Do they pick up the check?

I say it over and over again.

If you are eating dinner or lunch with a potential investor and they don’t pick up the tab, I can 99% guarantee that you will never get a penny out of them.

You aren’t getting their money if they cannot invest $75 for a meal.

Is Your Movie Investor Real?

Tip 04. Do they talk about “money coming in?”

They aren’t real if they talk about how money is on the way to their bank account.

I had this happen many times.

Someone talks about some bank deals or commissions that will be upcoming.

Walk away. Please don’t get your hopes up… Their deal never closes. And you will waste a lot of time pretending something will happen.

Tip 05. Is getting Film Funding too easy?

This is an interesting one.

A red flag should pop up if your film finance efforts seem too easy.

Closing money is not easy.

And if the person doesn’t look at your business plan or do their homework, chances are they don’t have the money to fund your project and are just pretending.

Don’t waste your time.


Discover The FIVE Essential Film Funding Tactics 

...Without Begging For Money!

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Always Be Researching

Here’s the key to funding your next movie. You must ALWAYS be in research mode!

Read the room. Don’t be too anxious. Analyze all the information you’re given, and your closing ratio will increase dramatically! If you’d like more film finance information, grab a copy of this Film Business Plan.

Recommended Course

Film Business Plan

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Master the art of crafting an effective film business plan. This course guides you through each step, from plot and budget to marketing and sales strategies, so you can quickly persuade investors to back your film.


You must talk to real investors if you need money to make your movie. Skip the Hollywood phonies—do your homework and check their background. They likely won’t fund your film if they hesitate to pick up the lunch tab.

Stay sharp, keep researching, and don’t get fooled by easy promises. Keep it real and smart to secure your funding!

Movie Investor Questions

Do you have questions about attracting movie investors and spotting Hollywood phonies? If so, here are some things to consider.

How do I find real movie investors?

Start by doing your research online. Check out your potential HNI online and see if they are full of it. Look for successful businesses or any other PR mention.

Spotting Fake movie investors?

If someone talks about money ‘on the way’ or seems too flashy without substance, that’s not good. If you go to lunch and they don’t offer to pick up the check, they’re probably not for real.

How can I tell if someone will invest in my movie?

Real investors will be interested in the details of your project and willing to discuss the financials upfront. They will not sidestep questions about funding.

What should I do at my Investor meeting?

Go into the meeting prepared. Start by asking them about their investment, business history, and their approach to film financing.

What is the importance of picking up the check-in film investment meetings?

If a potential investor won’t cover a meal, it’s often a sign they won’t invest in your film either. It’s about showing they’re serious and committed.

How easy should it be to get film funding?

Securing real film financing isn’t easy. There might be something off if it seems too good to be true. Real investment requires thorough vetting and serious discussions.


Here are some key terms mentioned in this lesson. Understanding these terms will help you spot genuine investors and secure funding for your film projects.

Investor: Someone who provides money for your project with the expectation of making a profit. Real investors have the funds and interest to back up their commitments.

Phony: A person who pretends to be something they are not; in this context, someone who acts like they can fund your film but actually cannot.

Google: Using the internet to research someone’s background and credibility before meetings.

Three-piece suit: A formal outfit consisting of a jacket, trousers, and a vest. In film finance, the fanciest dresser isn’t always the real deal.

Check: In the context of dining, paying for the meal. If a potential investor won’t pick up the tab at a meal, they likely won’t invest in your film.

Money Coming In: A phrase dubious investors use to imply they will soon have funds available, which often isn’t true.

Film Finance: The process of securing funding necessary to produce a film involves various strategies and sources of capital.

Business Plan: A document that outlines a film’s financial and operational goals, used to convince investors to fund the project.

HNI (High Net-Worth Individual): A term used to describe individuals with significant assets or resources available to invest in projects like films.

Due Diligence: The research and analysis an investor or filmmaker does before entering into an agreement or a financial transaction.

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Tom Malloy is a film producer, actor, and writer. Over the course of his career, he has raised over twenty-five million dollars to produce, and distribute multiple feature films. If you're ready to "level up" your film producing, make sure to check out Movie Plan Pro. The video training and downloadable film business plan template will provide you with the same tools Malloy uses when approaching prospective film investors.