When I was deciding on which article to write this time all I had to do was think back to the first question everyone asks anytime I’m on a panel or doing a speaking engagement in front of producers. “How do we fund our films?” And the question doesn’t usually end there. It continued with
“How do I raise money for my film in this economy?”
“In the face of having to deal with unions on my ultra- low budget film?”
“When I don’t have enough producing experience?”
“What if the script I’ve optioned isn’t commercial enough?”
My answer is always the same. The economy and the rest of those issues have nothing to do with it. If you buy into the doom and gloom of whatever conversation you’re telling yourself, you might as well go watch a movie, because you sure as heck aren’t going to make one. My business coach always said, “You take actions correlated to the way the world occurs for you”. So, if you think it’s impossible to raise money for your film… guess what actions you’re going to take.
I’m not saying you don’t have to be a lot smarter and a lot more creative. Of course, you do. In fact, you may have to consider lowering your budget or partnering up with a producer with more credits for example. You will need to get educated on what’s selling, how you can best take advantage of federal and state/provincial incentives, get super smart about crowdsourcing, and perhaps consider alternative forms of distribution and how that could entice investors to come on board. There is an endless number of things you can do to attract investors.
With all of this in mind, I have compiled the list below to help you jump-start the funding process. For the most part, I’ll be focusing on lower budget films, but you can certainly map this on to whatever budget size you have.
1. MINE YOUR OWN NETWORK OF PEOPLE
Call everyone you know (your entire “Map of Relationships”) and tell them exactly what you are doing — and make a request! When my film partner, Kate Robbins, and I had finished producing our first four bigger budget indie films we decided to take a break and have some fun producing a few SAG ultra-low projects.
We literally called everyone we knew and told them what we were planning and why. We explained that we were putting the final touches on our business plan, private placement memorandum and operating agreement for our horror film “Candy Stripers.” We had opened our LLC as well and we made our request simple. After I shared a bit about the project and how much the units/shares were going to be, I said, “if you’re interested in possibly investing and want to take a look at our Business Plan packet we’d be more than happy to send it along.”
2. DO MORE NETWORKING!
Go to events, festivals, screenings, and parties and get to know more people and tell them what you are up to. Be clear, brief and specific. 7