If you’ve made a movie or you’re working to make your movie (and I hope you are), you might also be thinking about how you will sell your film. Even though filmmaking is fun, it has a business component.
If you fail to think in terms of Return On Investment (ROI), then getting money for your next film is going to be even more complex than the first for two reasons:
- You’ll need to worry about money to put food on the table.
- Your prospective investors will want to see your track record.
The other factor you’ll have to consider is your initial budget. Go too high, and the chance of return could diminish.
Let me explain…
Sell Your Movie: A New Distribution Model For Indie Film
I’ve chatted with a few heavy-hitting friends in the industry, and there is talk about what I will call the “no-man’s-land” of indie movie budgets. This is a budget range from roughly 1M-10M that is becoming increasingly difficult to finance.
Tax credits and other deals aside, this is due (in large part) to changes in how movie distribution is shifting from a B2B to a B2C paradigm. This makes generating enough revenue to recoup the initial film investment challenging.
Indie film financing was always a crap shoot. But remove potential sales channels and add that technology allows virtually anyone to make a decent-looking movie. You can understand why it’s challenging to sell your film.
Let’s talk about some numbers…
When movies are funded, most people, including grips, gaffers, craft services, and other crew, get paid on the front end as part of the movie’s budget. We can also include some agents, managers, lawyers, Teamsters, writers, actors – and mostly everyone else.
On the micro-budget level, however, there isn’t enough money up-front to pay these folks what they were formally worth. So there are a few options. Hire fewer people. Hire non-union folks. And offer to pay Teamsters deferred pay with the bonus of copy and credit. (I’m adding some humor here – but can you imagine trying to provide a Teamster deferred income?)
So what does this mean for you and your movies?
Well, look at the music industry. Recording studios and record companies took a nose dive. But that hasn’t stopped people from making music or making money making music. Instead of asking some idiot in a suit for permission to make music, musicians can now find their audiences, build a following and sell their music… Without a middleman – globally.
That’s pretty amazing. The same wide-open world applies to your movie.
Do good work, and people will notice. Do bad work, and you still have the opportunity to find the 20 people in the world who think you’re brilliant. And in terms of pay structure – I made a joke earlier about deferred pay. But I am not opposed to some well-structured back-end deals.
Of course, as we all know, no movie project is guaranteed to make money. So for you and me and most indies, it will take roughly two years of hustle to churn out a movie you can be proud of. And all your hustle will help when it comes time to sell your film.