Thursday, August 30, 2012

So You Want to Make a Movie - Finding the Money

You’ve caught the bug, and you’ve decided to make a movie. But where do you start? The good news is today there are fewer barriers to overcome in order to produce a film. Thanks to digital filmmaking, the costs have dropped dramatically. In reality, practically anybody can become a filmmaker.  No one article can answer all of your questions or take you through the entire process; however, I want to offer you 15 key steps that will at least steer you in the right direction. Think of these steps as the big picture or the 30,000 foot view.

Step 4. Reevaluation

Now that you’ve done your budget, you’re probably staring at a very big number, maybe, 7 figures. Ask yourself this question, can I raise that kind of money? You need to take another hard look at your budget. Start paring it down. What do you absolutely need to make your story work? It’s time to get real. Do you have too many locations, props, characters or special effects? Chances are something has to go.

If your screenplay calls for a desert location, can you rewrite the scene for a location that you can afford? Remember, everything in your script will cost money to shoot. Find alternatives. At the end of the day, it’s possible that the story you have chosen is just too expensive to produce; therefore, you will need to go back to the drawing board and find a simpler, small-scale story that is centered around a single location with only a handful of characters. Most first-time filmmakers or beginners usually think they can raise a ton of money. With no proven track record, that is unlikely to happen.

Step 5. Building Your Team

By this time, things are getting serious. You have some decisions to make. What position are you going to play in your movie? Up to this point, you’ve probably functioned as a producer and/or executive producer. Are you going to continue on in that position or bring in somebody to take over? It’s a big decision. Of course that depends on your budget. You could hire a production company to take care of everything. Then all you will have to do is raise the money.

It's important to build you team before you enter the fundraising and investor phase of your project. Who’s going to be your director and cinematographer? Can you get a named actor attached to your movie before the main casting takes place? This is all about building credibility. Step 5 is not about hiring every single crew member. All you need to do, is just get a few key people on board.

Here’s what’s probably going to happen. You’ll end up at the very least producing the film and maybe directing it as well. If you have never directed a film, it can be overwhelming. If at all possible, find a director and concentrate your efforts on producing the film. Don’t try to do it all.

Step 6. Finding the Money

Like most of us, I’m sure you don’t have deep pockets, but if you can self-finance your movie, you can skip this phase. However something tells me you’re going to continue to read on. Here’s the question I know you’re asking yourself. Where do I find the money to make my movie? Most first-time filmmakers finance their movie with the help of friends and family. That will probably get you started, but it will not meet all of your needs or raise enough money to make your movie.

It’s time to find some investors. By now, you should have established a limited liability company. By doing so, you will protect your assets and financial condition. Having an LLC allows you to seek investors. These investors will expect to get paid back with interest and make a profit. So where do you find investors? You could waste hundreds of dollars on books and videos that promise some magic formula. The truth is there is no magic formula. It’s just a gimmick to get your money.

Finding investors comes down to hard work, pounding the pavement, and shaking a lot of hands. It’s good old fashioned networking. It starts with the people you know, the people they know, and the people that these people know. I recommend that you attend every event, fundraiser and banquet you can get invited to. Everyone you come in contact with is a potential investor.

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