Those who know me know that I’ve devoted much of my career on how to find investors who fund movies. And those who’ve listened to me speak or watched the Bankroll Your Movie video series, have heard me rant about the fact that most people telling you how to find investors have no idea how to do it, and have never raised a penny in their lives.
I’ve heard so much BAD information out there, it’s almost comical. So I thought it would be fun to write an article debunking some of these financing myths, shooting down these financing “gurus” and hopefully keeping you focused on actually getting REAL investors who will give you REAL money to make your REAL film. Enjoy.
How NOT To Find Investors For Your Movie
1) Go after Dentists: This myth started, I believe 30 years ago. Back then dentists were a great source for investment. Not anymore. I’ve had people say to me, “I’ve heard the easiest way to get money for your film is to just go to a convention for dentists and pitch them.” Ughh. Trust me, at this convention, the dentists are going to be interested in new procedures and new products to make them more money. They are not going to be interested in your indie film.
2) Write a Long Business Plan: I’ve seen it where a filmmaker pays a lawyer thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, to design a business plan. Or the filmmaker has read one of the “guru’s” books on business plans. People have made entire careers out of writing books on business plans. Does that mean they’ve raised money for films. No, it does not. One of these popular books was written by someone who went to Harvard Business school. Does that mean he knows anything about the movie business? No. He’s never produced a film before in his life.
No investor wants to read your 60 page business plan. Every investor I know values their time and they don’t want to have their time taken away. Going in with a long business plan is the equivalent of saying, “Can I show you my 2 hours of photos from my family vacation?” Who wants to see that? Your prospective investor will tune out, and you’ll lose them.
3) Hire an expensive consultant: I used to do consulting for films (I no longer have the time!) And I have friends who consult on films. One thing we all told every filmmaker who worked with us was, “Our job is not to find you investors.” And I made sure myself and whoever I was referring people to would just go by an hourly rate like an entertainment attorney, and, in most cases, be cheaper.
I’ve heard horror stories of people paying tens of thousands, up to 100k or more for a consultant who was going to “find” money for their film. Trust me, this is BS. If the guy or gal is very convincing, ask them to tell you what films they found money for. If they give you the line, “it’s confidential,” then 100% it’s a scam.
4) Go after someone in the movie business: I remember when I first started, letting everyone know that I was going to be film producer. Inevitably, someone would say something like, “I should introduce you to my cousin, he was a 2nd AD on the lastMarvel movie.” I don’t know who the 2nd AD was on the last Marvel movie, but even without knowing him or her, I can safely say he or she is not going to finance your film. That person is working in the movie business for a studio, has a nice job, and is most likely looking for more jobs and better ones.
It’s about self-interest. I make movies and it’s my only source of income. Should I risk all that to fund your “passion project?” What value is that to me? The bottom line is, people in the movie business are not going to find you money. I’ve actually had people approach me and tell me if I found an investor for them, they’d give me a percentage. LOL. So instead of that investor funding my projects that are in development, I’d give that person away and take a fee? Splendid!
5) Poach your Friends and Family: This happens mostly with crowdfunding. You put up a Kickstarter campaign, sit back, and wait 30 days, hoping the money will show up. But your first email is always to family and friends, asking for donations. Ughh. This is like selling Cutco knives or Amway. There’s something just plain gross about this.
I’ve had filmmaker friends email me or text me to ask me for donations for their films. When I donate, folks, it’s to a charitable organization. It’s not to an indie film. Your friends and your family will always wish you well, but you’re just gonna make it weird if you poach them! Forget you’re raising money for a movie, let’s just say you’re looking for money. Imagine going to a family reunion and just walking around with your hand out, going to each person, one by one, and asking: “Any chance I could have $20?” Embarrassing.
6) Use the Magic Bank: I’ve literally heard this 50 times, easy. Someone tells me they’ve got the solution for the money on their film. They are going to use a bank. Here’s how it goes. They’ve met someone who told them about this bank deal. As part of the deal, they only have to put up a percentage, say 10% of the total budget they’re raising, and the rest of the money magically appears in the account after 60 days. Now the terms may differ, but the end result is always the same… NO MONEY FOR YOUR FILM. Best case, you can get your 10% back. Worst case, that’s gone and you’ve got nothing.
I had a friend lose $150k with this BS. All I can say is this. Banks require collateral. If you don’t have a house or an asset to put up (which you shouldn’t do), you ain’t getting anything. Side note, I’ve talked trash about these magic bank loans at seminars and people have come up to me after and debated me, saying the one they’re involved in is ACTUALLY real. And I always have the same response, “let me know when the movie gets made.” It never does.
This is another situation where the scammers will tell you that they’ve funded a bunch of films this way. “Name one,” I’ll challenge them. And their response will be something like the phony consultants say, “It’s confidential.” HA! The film business is the exact opposite of confidential! Every single person who works on a film is credited, down to the guy who pours the coffee! There ain’t no magic bank loan.
I don’t want to write this article to stomp on anyone’s dreams. The goal is to make sure you’re staying away from everything above and focusing on the right way to raise money, which is hard work, prepping your project, improving it, targeting the right investors, and closing them. If you’d like to learn how to do that, check out my Bankroll Your Film Training Series.