As I mentioned in previous lessons, the name of the game in your first feature is to cut the need for hard cash, while at the same time preserving or improving your production value… You want to make your movie look more expensive than it is.
I also mentioned how some filmmakers employ bartering or trading to get the necessary resources.
Now, does cutting your budget and exchanging cash for favors involve A LOT of creativity and planning – YES! But we are talking about your first feature. And if you can learn to cut costs and be creative with virtually no money, imagine what you’ll accomplish when you actually do have money!
That being said – in the last lesson, I spoke about the traditional way business professionals find investors and raise funds by exchanging private equity for cash. Today, I’m going to talk about a lessor known, yet very popular way some filmmakers make their movie. It’s called the risk share method.
GET THE MONEY, PART 2
The other, more common, yet sometimes overlooked way to produce a feature is simply to ask your cast and crew if they would like to partner up and throw in some cash. Now, this is complicated and VERY RISKY and if done incorrectly, could get you into a lot of legal trouble (SO YES, TALK WITH A QUALIFIED LEGAL AND TAX PROFESSIONAL)…
But if you have 20 people working on your movie, and each throw in a few hundred dollars, you’re in the money.
- If you go this route, SPEAK WITH A QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL to help you out, as this sort of structure is ripe for lawsuits if something goes wrong.
- Get everything in writing!
- Understand who controls the process and who doesn’t. You don’t want an equity owning production assistant telling you what you can and cannot do with your finished film. And if you take shortcuts, this could happen.
Now again, this risk share strategy has many pros and cons – way too many to write about here. But for some filmmakers, being able to successfully structure a project this way, while at the same time doing it legally could be the difference between getting a movie made, or not.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read Extreme DV at Used-Car Prices: How to Write, Direct, Shoot, Edit, and Produce a Digital Video Feature for LessThan $3,000, but I seem to remember that Rick Schmidt mentioned the risk share model in the book. I could be confused about that… But Rick Schmidt is quite a filmmaking inspiration and his book is totally worth a read.